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Science Friday: Dana and Dana on NSP

Jul 11, 2014 Comments (0)  | Tags: Beer Geekery Science Friday: Dana and Dana on NSP

We are all bound to have a lot of questions as Ninkasi Space Program prepares to jettison live yeast into space, retrieve it, and then utilize it in brewing a quality beer. Here to help are Dana and Dana, two integral engineers in NSP’s first mission. Dana Garves is Ninkasi’s lab technician and Dana Robles is a Ninkasi brewer. As our space yeast makes it through the brewing process, Dana and Dana will answer our questions.

Question: How did you start sleuthing out how to begin NSP?

Dana G: When Nikos came to me in October 2013 and said we’re going to shoot yeast into space I really had no concept of what that meant. I started looking at how yeast has been shot into space before. Lots of universities send various scientific experiments up. They generally hitch a ride on various missions and whatnot. We’ve sent freeze dried or dried, ‘add water to activate’ yeast. What I found was no one had actually sent streak cultures of yeast. We have actual cultures that are alive and living on media and those are going to go into space.

Question: What informed the design of the payload container, and why was it 3D printed by RapidMade?

Dana G: We wanted something light in weight, and honestly, just to use a cool new technology. We wanted to design the container to maximize the number of strains we could have while also insulating our test tubes thoroughly. As long as we keep in under about 40 degrees Fahrenheit we should be able to keep it alive. We’re going to grind up about 30 pounds of CO2 in solid form, dry ice, and smash all of it into the other crevices within the capsule.

Question: What is your ultimate hypothesis? Will sending yeast to space affect the taste of the beer?

Dana G: My speculation is that no, it shouldn’t affect the taste of the beer.

Question: What is your greatest concern in regards to sending yeast to space?

Dana R: In terms of viability we’ll know right away if the yeast is going to be capable of fermenting the beer. My fear would be that it wouldn’t and the beer would not ferment on a basic level. The other fear would be of course if the beer we make doesn’t taste very good. It might also be that it tastes amazing.

Dana G: Specifically the thing that concerns me most is just the impact. I think that’s going to be the biggest decider of whether or not the yeast is viable. We need the parachute to open. If the parachute doesn’t open it’s going to take a pretty hard impact.

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