Beers in space

This is a case of "This town isn't big enough for both of us" taken to the extreme.

A Japanese visionary is working on what promises to be the first outer space beer, aimed at the small niche known as "astronauts."

The brewer Sapporo announced in Tokyo this week that it is planning the beer, using offspring of barley once stored at the International Space Station. The project makes use of the third generation of barley grains that had spent five months on the space station in 2006.

"We want to finish the beer by November. It will be the first space beer," Sapporo executive Junichi Ichikawa told reporters.

The company will have enough space grain to produce about 100 bottles of beer but has no immediate plan to make it a commercial venture, Sapporo officials said.

Managu Sugimoto, a biologist at Okayama University, is the lead scientist on the project. He also has been part of a Russian venture looking into ways to grow edible plants in space.

Barley can grow in relatively tough environments, such as high and low temperatures, and is rich in fibre and nutrients, making it ideal for space agriculture, Sugimoto said.

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