Nope, it’s not a home-brewing experiment gone horribly awry in the ISS. It’s an attempt to test the resilience of kombucha, by throwing it directly against the void of space.
The samples were first sent up the ESA last year, after the space organization noted the hardiness of kombucha and decided to send it up to see how it did. ESA has long done a series of exobiology experiments to see how various life forms (like tardigrades) survive when essentially tossed out of the ISS window. They’ve even had some luck with seeds managing to survive. For the kombucha experiment, though, the plan is to give it a full 18 months in space and see if it forms a hardy enough biofilm to get through it, which researchers say, they expect it to.
There’s no word on how its sojourn into space might change its flavor, but given the fact that parts of space are said to have a raspberries-and-rum tinged flavor, I volunteer as human test subject #1. (Call me, ESA!)
Image: ISS / NASA