The Indian Parliament is a colourful place, with discussions on everything on the planet Earth, and now even space. Among the several questions posed to the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trinamool Congress MP Sisir Kumar Adhikari's question clearly stands out.
In the Lok Sabha on Thursday, Adhikari asked the Prime Minister whether an Indian spacecraft was planning to brew beer on the moon. Now though this is not a topic on which the government faces questions every day, it gave a diligent and well researched to Adhikari.
a) whether an Indian Spacecraft is planning to brew beer on the moon;
(b) if so, the details of research plan and viability of yeast test therefor; and
(c) the universal rules on moon lander therein?
In reply to his question, the government said:
a)No Madam. There is no plan to brew beer on the moon by any spacecraft to be made by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
However, Team Indus, a privately funded team under the Axiom Research Labs Pvt. Ltd., is competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition towards building a spacecraft capable of soft landing and roving on the Moon. The spacecraft is proposed to be launched onboard ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) under a commercial launch agreement. As understood from media reports that, Team Indus is proposing an experiment to brew beer on the Moon using yeast.
(b) As understood, the aim of this experiment is to test and observe the survivability of yeast in space and how it performs under Moon's gravity conditions. The experiment plans to brew a small batch of beer in space.
(c) The activities in Outer Space including moon and other celestial bodies are governed by UN treaties on Outer space activities namely - (i) Outer Space Treaty, 1967, (ii) Moon Agreement 1979. Further, the protection of planetary environment is governed by COSPAR Planetary Protection Policy 2002.
These treaties and policies govern the scientific exploratory activities in outer space, moon and other celestial bodies using human made spacecraft, landers, rovers etc., without causing harmful contaminations to the environment in outer space, moon and other celestial bodies and to Earth as well by bringing extra-terrestrial materials. Such activities need to be authorized by the State concerned.
The Hindu had reported in January that brewing beer to examine yeast formation is a part of 25 more experiments, including photosynthesis on the moon and water recycling, that would go to the moon on the Team Indus.
Team Indus is a private organisation based out of Bangalore that is also "the only Indian team competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE. The $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE is a global competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration."
It was reported by space.com that it has a launch contract from the Indian Space Research Organisation for a booster flight.