Olive Oil Heads to Space on Bezos Rocket

Olive oil from Messinia will be carried into space, part of an experiment about how food reacts to zero gravity.

By Paul Conley
Mar. 1, 2017 10:40 UTC

Jeff Bezos, the bil­lion­aire founder of Amazon and noted space buff, plans to send olive oil into space in an exper­i­ment to deter­mine how zero grav­ity affects food.

Under the plan, a pay­load of Messinian prod­ucts, includ­ing Kalamata olives, olive oil, figs and raisins, will be car­ried beyond the atmos­phere on a Blue Origin rocket.

We know that water does not main­tain its liq­uid form in space and it will be inter­est­ing to see how olive oil behaves.- Takis Papadopoulos

The date of the launch has not been released.

The National Herald, an English-lan­guage news­pa­per owned by Greek news­pa­per Ethnikos Kyrix, reported that the plan has its roots in a high school in Greece.

Blue Origin, the aero­space man­u­fac­turer and space flight ser­vices com­pany founded by Bezos, declined to com­ment about the exper­i­ment to Olive Oil Times.

Takis Papadopoulos, a teacher at the Bougas high school acad­emy, told the Herald that the pur­pose of the exper­i­ment is two-fold: first, to observe the behav­ior of olive oil and specif­i­cally to exam­ine if olive oil will main­tain its liq­uid shape once it has left the earth. We know that water does not main­tain its liq­uid form in space and it will be inter­est­ing to see how olive oil behaves. And sec­ond, the behav­ior of yeast bac­te­ria growth in space, bread mak­ing abil­ity in space.”

Papadopoulos said he pro­posed that his stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in the exper­i­ment when he met the chief engi­neer of Blue Origin at a con­fer­ence in Holland.

The food is expected to spend only seven to eight min­utes in zero grav­ity. But Papadopoulos believes that will be suf­fi­cient to gather ini­tial data on how the food reacts.

And if all goes well, Papadopoulos is hope­ful that the Messinian prod­ucts that are the base of the Mediterranean diet will be the food for the astro­nauts as well of the pas­sen­gers of com­mer­cial space flights for many years to come.”

Also play­ing a role in the exper­i­ment is Takis’ brother, Periklis Papadopoulo, who is a pro­fes­sor of Aerospace Engineering at San Jose State University in California. Periklis Papadopoulo is involved in an ini­tia­tive to build a space­port in Kalamata.

Blue Origin, founded in 2000, aims to dra­mat­i­cally lower the cost of pri­vate space travel. The pri­vate com­pany takes an incre­men­tal approach — mov­ing from sub­or­bital to orbital flight. The com­pany focuses on the devel­op­ment of rocket-pow­ered Vertical Takeoff and Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehi­cles.

No Blue Origin vehi­cle has yet orbited the earth. The company’s first manned mis­sion into space is planned for this year.

News of the olive oil exper­i­ment comes as Blue Origin under­takes a major expan­sion of its head­quar­ters out­side Seattle, adding a 236,000-square-foot ware­house com­plex and 102,900 square feet of office space, accord­ing to Geekwire. Blue Origin is also build­ing a 750,000-square-foot fac­tory near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


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