It’s the fantasy of many of us earthbound types – sitting by a window on a space station, gazing at a galaxy while sipping down a Cosmic Cosmopolitan – but how many astronauts actually get to live out this dream?

The answer is not many, and most of them are Russian! It’s true that Buzz Aldrin TOOK. COMMUNION. ON. THE. MOON. However, NASA kept that fact under wraps for a long time, mainly because it wanted to keep religion and state separate, not so much because drinking in space is a bad thing.

So, it is physically possible to have a drink in space – it’s just not that great an idea. It’s unlikely that future space missions will set off with bulk orders of wine in the tanks!

Sherry onboard the Skylab

It almost happened in the 1970s though. During this period of the space-race, poor astronauts had to endure some awful packaged food and so NASA took pity on them and allowed them a drink. The scientists got together and decided that a sherry would be best as any drink going into space would have to be repackaged and the effects would be uncertain. As sherry has already been cooked during processing, it would be more resistant to the rigours of space travel. It was a cream sherry that was earmarked for going into space on these missions.

It never took off

Sadly, the sherry didn’t make it after all. Skylab 4 commander Gerry Carr let slip during a public lecture the fact that sherry would be included in the astronauts’ packaged meals on the next mission and the public didn’t like it at all. Since this outcry, NASA has imposed a strict ban on extra-terrestrial alcohol.

As you might imagine, Russian cosmonauts have it that little bit easier. Space program doctors over there actually recommend that cosmonauts drink a tot of Cognac to maintain their immune systems. If you’re pulling a sceptical face right now, stop; there’s actually evidence that the resveratrol in Cognac helps to counteract the various physical effects of space travel.

This doesn’t mean that the International Space Station is about to start partying – it’s still very much a dry place. Even though you can drink alcohol when you’re in space, it might leave you unable to react rapidly or sensibly enough to deal with the sudden problems space travel can throw at you.