The International Space Station bid farewell Tuesday to 12 bottles of French Bordeaux wine and hundreds of snippets of grapevines that spent a year orbiting the world in the name of science. SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule undocked with the wine and vines — and thousands of pounds of other gear and research, including mice — and will splash down tonight (Wednesday) in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa.
The carefully packed wine — each bottle nestled inside a steel cylinder to prevent breakage — remained corked aboard the orbiting lab. Space Cargo Unlimited, a Luxembourg startup behind the experiments, wanted the wine to age for an entire year up there. None of the bottles will be opened until the end of February. That’s when the company will pop open a bottle or two for an out-of-this-world wine tasting in Bordeaux by some of France’s top connoisseurs and experts. Months of chemical testing will follow. Researchers are eager to see how space altered the sedimentation and bubbles.