This Glass Lets You Enjoy Whiskey in Zero Gravity

By Carl Engelking | September 4, 2015 2:10 pm

(Credit: Screengrab from YouTube/Ballantines)

When space tourism eventually takes off, you can guarantee the first travelers to shell out the money to get there will also want to partake in the finer things in life – like a good whiskey — while enjoying their place on top of the world.

But pouring a nicely aged whiskey is basically impossible without gravity there to lend a hand. Fortunately Ballantine’s, a maker of blended Scotch whiskey, has a solution: On Friday the company unveiled its Space Glass, which is the first vessel engineered specifically to deliver a distilled beverage to your lips while enjoying the weightlessness of space.

Capillary Creativity

The Space Glass, designed by space enthusiasts at the Open Space Agency, works by exploiting an age-old principle called capillary action, which was first discovered by Leonardo DaVinci. Capillary action is the ability of a liquid to defy gravity by clinging to the walls of narrow vessels. It’s the same process that allows water to travel from a plant’s roots to its flowers.

To fill Ballantine’s Space Glass, whiskey is injected through a valve at the bottom of the cup, which is made from 3-D-printed plastic, and into a reservoir. The whiskey then travels through a narrow channel that spirals up to a mouthpiece situated on the brim. All you need to do is then suck the beverage in and enjoy. By all appearances, it looks like a sleek sip cup for adults.

(Credit: Open Space Agency)

(Credit: Open Space Agency)

The design team took their cup to a zero gravity testing laboratory in Bremen, Germany, called a drop tower. Here, objects are placed in a vacuum-sealed shaft and dropped from a height of 360 feet. As the capsule falls down the shaft, it creates zero-gravity conditions for a few seconds, allowing scientists to observe how objects behave in a weightless environment.

In the tower, Ballantine’s cup behaved according to plan; the whiskey moved up the channel and into the mouthpiece.

Space Race

To accent the Space Glass, Ballantine’s also created a special whiskey blend to satisfy the dulled palates of space travelers. To live in a weightless environment is to also live every day with cold symptoms. Water in the body flows into space travelers’ upper extremities in a weightless environment, resulting in constant cold-like congestion. As you know, this dulls your sense of taste, so Ballantine’s space whiskey has a little more zing than its terrestrial blend.

There are several startups vying to become the pioneer in space tourism, like Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. There’s no telling when the first tourists will set a course for the stars, but when they do, they’ll have a few creature comforts to enjoy the journey that much more.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Technology, top posts
  • Uncle Al

    Blended scotch is a mixture of others’ mistakes. Go straight to Canadian whiskey(-flavored vodka) then Coors Beer (like making love in a canoe). Aren’t these moments of your life too precious to be spent in an asethetic dumpster?

    Lagavulin is perfect in every way. A jigger of Laphroaig over a dish of very cold French vanilla ice cream. Ardbeg Uigeadail, because you can.

  • Overburdened_Planet

    From the Ballantine site:
    “Gold is often used in space technology as it deflects the radiation of the sun, but in this instance it’s highly unreactive properties serves to prevent the glass from affecting the whisky’s taste.”

    And on another page:
    “What materials is the Space Glass made from?

    We used medical grade 3D printed PLA [thermoplastics which become soft and mouldable when heated and return to a solid when cooled], essentially the same materials and process that is used for heart valves that go inside human bodies. The base plate is a stainless steel which is coated in rose gold. We created something that is sterile and nonreactive. Gold is extremely nonreactive, which is one of the reasons it is so valuable.”

    So does the whisky come into contact with plastic or not?

    • Courtney

      That would be one expensive sip cup but I agree !

      • Overburdened_Planet

        I failed to explain why I asked, assuming readers would understand, but plastic must affect/alter the flavor.

        And the cost would be outrageous, but so is the trip!

        And the word “ostentatious” comes to mind…

  • Shaun G. Lynch

    I no longer have any reason not to become an astronaut!

    … except claustrophobia. And a lack of in-depth scientific education.

    I need a Scotch (Cragganmore!).

  • eirikr1

    time to do my bit for science. The article makes no mention of a person actually sipping the cup in weightlessness. Easy enough with the zero-g airplane,space ship two, and actual flights….

  • Vincent Wolf

    A straw basically.

    • Mary Buck

      Check out a ^great way how you can earn a lot of extra $ by finishing basic jobs online from home for few hrs /daily VISIT MY-DISQUS-PROFILE to find out more


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