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  Coke machines on-board the space shuttle

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Author Topic:   Coke machines on-board the space shuttle
NavySpaceFan
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Posts: 649
From: Norfolk, VA
Registered: May 2007

posted 07-18-2008 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NavySpaceFan   Click Here to Email NavySpaceFan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was at the Astronaut Hall of Fame yesterday, and I saw in the new shuttle exhibit a Coke dispenser flown on board Endeavour during STS-77. Does anyone know anything about this? I thought that the only sodas flown were during STS-51F back in 1985.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30714
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-18-2008 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Before I created collectSPACE and even before Coca-Cola had its own website, I created the Coke In Space website. Coca-Cola was kind to provide photographs, slides and information that I was more than happy to host online.

The "Coca-Cola Space Dispenser" (Fluids Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus) was designed to provide astronauts the opportunity to enjoy Coca-Cola and Diet Coke in the weightless environment of space. It held 1.65 liters each of Coca-Cola and Diet Coke.

An astronaut would dispense the carbonated drink of choice into a "Fluids Transfer Unit" or sealed drinking cup through a quick connect on the dispenser. Made from clear polycarbonate, the FTU was based on the design of the Coca-Cola Space Can first flown in 1985 and held up to seven ounces. The design incorporated a unique baffle and thin vanes at its bottom to keep the liquid and carbon dioxide (CO2) from separating.

Eighteen (18) of the "space cups" and the dispenser first flew on shuttle Discovery's STS-63 mission in 1995.

Fluids Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus-1 (FGBA-1)

The Fluids Generic Processing Apparatus-1 is the first of three commercial payloads being developed by BioServe Space Technologies. BioServe is a NASA Center for the Commercial Development of Space (CCDS) located at the University of Colorado, Boulder. A consortium of private businesses, universities and government, including The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, GA; Martin Marietta, Denver, CO; Ohmeda, Boulder, CO; University of Colorado, Boulder; Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS; and NASA's Office of Space Access and Technology, Washington, DC, have combined resources to sponsor the FGBA commercial program.

The consortium has a major long-range objective in advancing fluid management technology in microgravity. Consistent with this objective, this first BioServe FGBA experiment represents a significant opportunity to obtain fundamental data on containment, manipulation and transfer of pressurized, supersaturated two-phase fluids. During STS-63, this program is expected to further the commercial objectives of The Coca-Cola Company in developing both terrestrial and space applications. The Coca-Cola Company has a strong interest in developing hardware to carbonate water on demand and to mix and dispense beverages with minimal loss of carbonation. Developing technology to accomplish these objectives in microgravity may likely evolve into terrestrial applications that could further the long-range research and development objectives of The Coca-Cola Company.

This flight will provide baseline data on changes in astronauts' taste perception of beverages consumed in microgravity. The beverages to be used in the evaluation are Coca-Cola and diet Coke. The taste perception changes experienced by astronauts on-orbit will be compared to their taste perception of these beverages in matched pre- and post-flight ground controls involving the same crew members.

Dr. George Morgenthaler, Director of the BioServe CCDS, is Program Manager for the FGBA experiment. Drs. Louis Stodieck and Alex Hoehn, also of BioServe, are responsible for mission management. Dr. Ashis Gupta is the principal engineer for this experiment for The Coca-Cola Company.

An upgraded version of the device flew on STS-77 as the Fluids Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus-2 (FGBA-2). Rather than just storing the beverages as earlier versions did, the dispenser tested if carbonated beverages could be produced from separately stored carbon dioxide, water and flavored syrups and if the resulting fluids could be made available for consumption without foam formation. Unfortunately, the FGBA-2 did not work as expected.

FGBA-2

Unlike Pepsi's efforts in space, which were primarily for promotion, Coca-Cola made a serious investment into their research. In addition to a desire to offer carbonated beverages for astronauts, Coca-Cola was also observing the effects of space flight on changes in taste perception with the goal of understanding altered tastes in specific target populations on Earth, such as the elderly.

In regards to what is now on display at the Astronaut Hall of Fame, as you can see from the photos that the FGBA and the FGBA-2 differed greatly in appearance. If indeed the device at the Hall of Fame is described as flown on STS-77, then I believe it is in error. It appears that what they have is FGBA-002, the second unit (by serial number) of what was prepared for STS-63, rather than the FGBA-2 flown on STS-77.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30714
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-18-2008 01:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Coca-Cola scientist Dr. Ashis Gupta

Mario Runco floats near the FGBA-2 on STS-77.

NavySpaceFan
Member

Posts: 649
From: Norfolk, VA
Registered: May 2007

posted 07-18-2008 08:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NavySpaceFan   Click Here to Email NavySpaceFan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rob, you are indeed correct! The unit on display is the first iteration, and it's credited by the AHoF with flying on STS-77. So they goofed. Thanks for the background!

Philip
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Posts: 5039
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 07-27-2008 04:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't forget Pepsi in space: Both on MIR (with some publicity during an EVA) and on the early shuttle flights!

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30714
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-27-2008 05:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't believe Pepsi, the actual beverage, ever made it to Mir. They did fly an inflatable over-sized bottle to shoot a commercial, but the only time Pepsi flew its soda was on STS-51F, and that was also for publicity in response to Coca-Cola's payload flying for the first time on that same mission.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2270
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 07-31-2008 02:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've always wondered about why the soft drink companies did research into this. The biggest problem with carbonated beverages consumed in Earth orbit as I see it is an astronaut can't necessarily burp out the excess CO2 since to my knowledge, the gas bubbles just sit in the stomach due to microgravity.

Air bubbles were a problem on a couple of the shuttle flights when too much air was added to some of the astronauts' drinks and it can result in some gas pain discomfort. I recall it happened on one of Tom Jones' flights (as documented in his book "Sky Walking") and until a fix was developed, one of the other crewmembers came up with a technique to spin his drink bags so the gas would "rise" to the top while the fluid would go to the bottom.

Now if we ever get back to the Moon or land on Mars (or come up with an artificial gravity environment, ala Space Station 5 in 2001), then I can see such drinks potentially becoming popular tastes of home. Granted I suppose that Coke might have also done some research into using less CO2 in their drinks for space while still trying to maintain the same tingling flavor on the taste buds. I suppose if a better refrigeration system were utilized (stick it in the freezer on the ISS!) then I could also see a use for Coke flavored ice pops of some sort. They wouldn't be carbonated, but would be cold and tastey I imagine, sort of like a Coke float in space.

Now from a collectability standpoint, about ten years ago I did find a plastic Coca Cola drink container which was shaped like the one that flew on STS-51F at a second chance store. This was a promotional premium that Coke came out with at the time of the flight and it only looked like the real dispenser as opposed to being a true replica of it. I presented it to Bill Grush from Star Realm as a gift for his collection rather then keeping it for myself, since I knew he would potentially take care of it better then I could.

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