Being an astronaut sounds exciting and all, but let’s be honest – their lives are very different. It naturally leads us to question whether they can do things we can do – such as drinking alcohol. Are they allowed to, or would they even want to be able to in space? Here is everything you are going to want to know.
So, can astronauts drink alcohol in space? Astronauts cannot drink alcohol in space. But although NASA doesn’t allow the consumption of alcohol during spaceflight missions, this doesn’t mean alcohol hasn’t found its way to space in the past. Space agencies have experimented with the idea of alcohol in space, but it’s still not allowed for safety reasons.
Astronauts generally live by strict requirements in outer space, regardless of how much time they spend out there.
There are plenty of goods they can take with them to help pass the time and make their diets less redundant, but alcohol is not one of them.
Let us now explore why this is the case!
Are Astronauts Allowed To Drink Alcohol In Space?
Currently, astronauts are not permitted to drink alcohol in space as it can not only impair judgment, but some of its properties don’t seem to always mix well in the element of space.
It’s known that NASA previously allowed alcohol consumption in the early days of space flight, but this quickly changed as time moved forward.
Over the years, we’ve also come to learn that not all alcohol reacts the same in outer space, as champagne bottles have the potential to combust, and others have been found to induce gag reflexes in zero-gravity environments.
NASA has been known to be relatively strict about alcohol consumption in space over the last few decades, and although space agencies are open to discussing the possibility, the safety and health of the astronauts are always more important.
Moreover, alcohol is also prohibited on the International Space Station, as it has been found that alcohol can have a negative impact on the Environmental Control and Life Support System, which is essential.
We all know how alcohol can impair the brain’s judgment, and astronauts don’t have the luxury of existing in this state of mind.
Existing in outer space requires astronauts to be on their toes, and it doesn’t take much for alcohol to have varying effects on their ability to do their job.
Aside from the obvious impact alcohol has on the human body, there are more technical reasons why alcohol can’t be brought on board.
Why Can’t Astronauts Drink Alcohol In Space?
There’s a decent list of reasons why astronauts can’t drink alcohol in space, but this rule is in effect before they even get on the shuttle. One of the primary reasons alcohol isn’t allowed is that it can cause something called off-gassing, which can harm the internal ecosystem of the ship.
Astronauts face many dangers at every stage of space travel, from launch to landing, and the integrity of their life support systems must be working to the best of their ability at all times.
It comes down to the gases that alcohol could potentially add to the air, and trapped gases inside the shuttle could lead to some issues for the crew.
This same rule also applies to any products that contain alcohol, such as mouth wash, shaving cream, and more.
Although NASA is relatively strict about alcohol consumption, this doesn’t mean astronauts haven’t experimented with alcohol in space before.
It’s already known that all liquids behave differently in zero-gravity, and alcohol tends to get pretty foamy, which is only exaggerated in outer space.
Unfortunately, the foam from beer doesn’t dissipate as it does here on Earth.
Because of zero gravity, the carbonation remains scattered throughout the liquid without the dissipation we’re used to, which can make it difficult to drink altogether.
What Happens If You Get Drunk In Space?
Aside from it being a potential danger to the safety of the crew and mission, drinking alcohol in space can be an unsettling experience in multiple ways, but it is possible to get drunk in space.
With beer, the foam it generates could lead to an upset, bloated stomach because it can stack faster than it disappears in your stomach.
Of course, liquor would be a different story, but drinking liquor is known for its stronger alcohol content which can be dangerous, even in small volumes.
To currently available knowledge, no one has gotten deliberately drunk in space, as space agencies have never allowed enough alcohol on board for that to happen.
It’s clear that you can definitely get drunk while in space, and while this could affect the health and performance of astronauts, there are other problems to consider.
Citizens are always interested in what NASA’s up to, whether it’s just curiosity or wondering where their tax dollars are going.
In the past, NASA has mentioned sending repackaged sherry with their astronauts, but it received such negative feedback from the public that the idea was tossed altogether.
An astronaut’s job comes with extensive requirements, and paying attention to the fine details of their job is essential.
Alcohol in space may have been considered from time to time, but it’s just not logical to have it on board.
From another perspective, it has been noted that astronauts are fairly clever about sneaking alcohol on board, going against the rule book.
Has Anyone Been Drunk In Space?
The key word here is in the word “drunk,” as there are numerous reports of U.S. and Russian astronauts having access to alcohol in space. A few astronauts have had the pleasure of drinking alcohol in space, but no one has reportedly “been drunk” although it is possible.
In the earlier space age of the 70s and 80s, rules on alcohol in space weren’t nearly as strict, and Russian doctors actually recommended alcohol for astronauts to help keep their immune systems intact.
Over the last few decades, these sentiments have changed.
This may not keep astronauts from sneaking small amounts of alcohol on board, but space agencies have essentially banned it entirely from operations in outer space.
It’s understandable why astronauts would want alcohol in space, as it can be hard to spend extended amounts of time up there.
It may not have been broadcasted at the time, but Buzz Aldrin admitted later on that he had a bit of wine during the first moon landing.
This was kept secret for multiple reasons, but NASA was aware of Aldrin’s plans before he left.
There’s also a chance that an astronaut or two may have gotten drunk in space in the past, yet no one back on Earth was told of the occasion.
Along with the mysteries space provides, who’s to say we know everything that happens on the space station.
Even with the strict approach that space agencies have toward alcohol in modern times, this doesn’t mean it won’t be considered again in the future.
If they can find a way for it to work for the space agencies, astronauts, and the public, I’m sure it may be considered again someday in the future.
Alcohol definitely has a history in outer space, and it was much more common in the early days of space exploration.
Aside from consumption of the beverage, alcohol has been sent to space for testing to better understand how it operates in the elements of space.
For now, alcohol will continue to be banned from space flight, and NASA doesn’t even allow astronauts to have alcohol in their bloodstream 12 hours before takeoff.
A small handful of astronauts have had the pleasure of drinking alcohol in outer space, but that was a short-lived era in space exploration.
Wondering what else astronauts can and cannot do? Then my other guides may be of interest:
- Can Astronauts Have Tattoos?
- Can Astronauts Use Internet In Space?
- Can Astronauts Watch TV In Space?
- Can Astronauts Use Cellphones In Space?
- Can Astronauts Burp In Space?
- Can Astronauts Fart In Space?
- Can Astronauts Wear Glasses?
- Can Astronauts See Stars In Space?
Hey, my name is Chris. I’m a passionate and seasoned astronomer who loves nothing more than observing the night sky. I also love researching, learning, and writing all things Space and the Universe. I created Astronomy Scope to share my knowledge, experience, suggestions, and recommendations of what I have learned along the way while helping anyone to get into and maximize their enjoyment of the hobby.