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Japanese whisky arrives at the International Space Station
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 25, 2015


An unmanned cargo ship loaded with emergency supplies -- including Japanese whisky -- successfully docked at the International Space Station early Tuesday, officials said.

But thirsty astronauts will have to keep their hands off the golden tipple -- it's a science experiment.

Drinks giant Suntory sent the booze to space so it could test how time in a zero-gravity environment affects its flavour.

Researchers for the company have said that storing the beverage in an environment with only slight temperature changes and limited liquid movement could lead to a mellower flavour.

The unusual cargo was placed inside the 5.5-tonne vessel "Kounotori" (stork in Japanese), which blasted off from southern Japan last Wednesday attached to an H-IIB rocket.

It was also loaded with food, water, clothing and tools necessary for experiments in space.

Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui, 45, who is living at the ISS, used a robotic arm to grab the vessel before it was successfully berthed at the station.

The cargo ship will leave the ISS and re-enter the earth's atmosphere in late September, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The delivery also contained parts for a water recycling system, after the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) asked its Japanese counterparts to include them as "emergency materials" following the failure in June to launch the US Falcon 9 rocket.

The unmanned SpaceX rocket exploded minutes after lift-off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, marking a major setback for the company headed by technology tycoon Elon Musk.

The accident was the third in less than a year involving US and Russian supply ships bound for the International Space Station, and raised new concerns about the flow of food and gear to the astronauts living in orbit.

oh/pb/eb

ISS

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