Space cargo

International Space Station cargo shipment
Flying high and drinking rye

When thinking of whiskey deliveries it is common to imagine a 1920s bumbling truck with several barrels loaded on the back. However, times have definitely changed.

Yesterday, a Japanese company known for its whiskey and other alcoholic beverages loaded five types of distilled spirits in a cargo ship destined for the International Space Station – all in the name of Science.

The batch of spirits, which took five days, won’t be consumed by thirsty astronauts but will instead be returned to Earth so the shipper, Suntory Global Innovation Centre in Tokyo, can analyse whether alcoholic beverages mellow at the same rate in space as they do on Earth.

If you are wondering, how on Earth do they deliver an unmanned cargo ship to the ISS, well, in this case when the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI5” (HTV5) arrived the ISS’s big robotic arm – operated by Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui – reached out and grabbed the supply craft. Flight controllers then helped to anchor it down.

The delivery didn’t only consist of booze, but NASA also included much-needed equipment and supplies for the six residents posted 250 miles high.

The astronauts happily welcomed the successful delivery of fresh supplies after losing three shipments in eight months – one to a launch accident that destroyed everything on board, a second to another launch explosion and a third was destroyed on re-entry.