Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Lofty Plan to Send Cognac to Space

After a hard day's work in space, what does the average astronaut need to wind down?

If French distillery Remy Martin has its way, that astronaut will take the lead of his Russian counterparts and sit back with a bottle of cognac.

Remy Martin has launched a special cognac that uses space-age technology to create an alcohol, a bottle and a way of drinking that preserves the earthly ritual up in space and even "improves living conditions," company spokesman Yann Soenen said.

"Astronauts are human," Soenen said by telephone from Paris. "They need a little pleasure sometimes."

The cognac is a rather fruity, even floral, number that explodes with taste at the back of the mouth, says Remy Martin. Why the back? Because anywhere near the front and it will float off up your nose or somewhere just as embarrassing.

To stop the floating problem, the Remy Martin bottle has an anti-leak valve as well as a somewhat less space-age technological number: a straw.

The company, which presented the drink at the Paris Air Show last month, is giving away 3,000 of the 200-gram bottles on its web site. Officials said they expect the cognac to go into space by the end of the year.

Months of research have gone into the drink and the bottle. The cognac, frozen at minus 12 degrees Celsius, has been sent through the same type of filters used to recycle water on space shuttles. Filtration helps make the cognac smooth and fluid at sub-freezing temperatures and comes with a thermal blanket to protect it from radiation.

"It's a learning process," Soenen said. "No one has done this before."

Well, not quite.

Alcohol in space is nothing new for the cosmonauts who have flown up to the Mir space station. Russian and Soviet cosmonauts have been drinking cognac and other alcoholic drinks for years on space flights.

Although officially banned, former cosmonauts acknowledge to drinking— in moderation — in space. Cognac, even French cognac, has been tried up above the Earth. "There's always been that tradition of taking a little in orbit," said former cosmonaut Alexander Serebrov, who spent more than 300 days in space in three different flights in the 1990s.

Serebrov remembers fondly imbibing French and Armenian cognac.

There was no need for special space-age technology, said Serebrov. Instead, now and again they would use syringes to make it easier to drink in zero gravity.

Another cosmonaut, Alexander Poleshchuk, who spent six months on board Mir in 1993, recalled how when crews ran out of booze they would go on a treasure hunt, tearing down interior panels to find bottles hidden by previous crews. "Sometimes we would bump into a bottle of cognac. What a joy it was," Poleshchuk said in a interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Serebrov said they would only drink small quantities of alcohol, a mere 25 grams a time. The effect is "four times more than normal," remembered Serebrov. "[You need] to sleep afterward."

Getting the Remy Martin bottles up in space may be difficult. NASA strictly prohibits drinking alcohol in space and Russia officially stands against it.

But Serebrov is keen on the idea.

"I think it's good," he said. "I like French cognac — it's dry."