The WISE Mission (2019-2022) is the first private sector-led utility research project to help microgravity meet the agricultural challenge of climate change. To do this, go to the International Space Station (ISS).
The Mission WISE Led by start-up Space Cargo Unlimited, it seeks to use space as a new dimension of research for future agriculture on Earth. In particular, it focuses on the impact of microgravity on complex biological systems to find solutions for grape cultivation. On November 2, 2019, 12 bottles of 2000 Vintage Peters wine were flown to the International Space Station at an altitude of 400 km, with technical support from Thales Alenia Space and US company Nanorax. Then, 320 flag shoots – 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon – thanks to partnership with CNES and ESA. They were exposed to microgravity for 10 and 14 months, respectively.
The bottles and branches returned to Earth on January 14, 2021 in the Dragon Capsule (SpaceX). Following the first organoleptic taste at the ISVV (Wine and Wine Science Institute) in Bordeaux, both projects gave their first results last March. “There were real differences, especially in dress and taste. It was very difficult for the participants to make a difference in the dimension of the scent.”, Summarized by Emmanuel Edzepare, co-founder of Space Cargo Unlimited and its co-founder of Space Biology Unlimited Research. Researchers are now studying the combination of the biochemical properties of wine, which depends on the aging environment of a wine aging and its components: taste, aroma, color, polyphenols, fermentation, bacteria, and yeast. .
The branches reveal their first secrets
The branches were subjected to detailed microscopic analysis and then planted a few days after returning to the earth. One is in the greenhouses of ISVV and the other is in Wendy’s, the greenhouses of the Mercier Group, the world leader in the production of vine plants and the creation of vineyards, with which Space Cargo Unlimited has recently completed a partnership. “We look forward to discovering the effects of microgravity-free and unprecedented biological changes relying on ISS.” Guilloo shares Mercier, chairman of the Mercier group. We are interested in identifying the ecosystems where the branches germinate and whether their adaptation and growing potential respond to the effects of climate change. “
After a few weeks, the effects of microgravity on the vine shoots become visible. Branches that passed through space experienced faster growth and early germination compared to branches on Earth under similar conditions. FAU continues research in collaboration with the University of Erlangen (Germany) and the Mercier Group. The latter first placed a portion of the vine in a special room before replanting it in the ground for quick rooting. Harvest is scheduled for December 2021. Researchers will then identify changes in the DNA of plants. Then, they will analyze how the microgravity has changed the epigenetics of the flag and identify the component (s) behind the new properties.
Through this strategic alliance, Space Biology Unlimited, a subsidiary of Space Cargo Unlimited and the first Acritech space launch based on Bordeaux, seeks to accelerate the development of new flag variants for rapid commercialization worldwide from June 2022. Within five years the alliance aims to represent Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot 10% of global sales or about 2 million flags a year.