Credit: TeamIndus


Moonshine – space exploration style!

A team of University of California San Diego (UCSD) engineering students is in ferment – all hopped up to see if beer can be brewed on the Moon.

Their experiment is designed to test the viability of yeast on the Moon. The brewmasters stem from UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering calling themselves “Team Original Gravity.”

They are one of 25 teams selected from a pool of several thousand entries to compete for a spot aboard a moonbound lander/rover planned for launch on Dec. 28, 2017.


The spacecraft is owned by the Indian startup TeamIndus, an industrious Indian group competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE and a $30 million purse. To win, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon that explores at least 1,640 feet (500 meters) and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth.

Credit: TeamIndus

TeamIndus has secured a launch contract from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for a booster flight.

TeamIndus invited experiment ideas from researchers under 25 years of age to imagine, design and build an experiment that will help humankind build sustainable life on the Moon.

Shortlisted experiments

In Phase-I of the “Lab2Moon” challenge, participants were asked to send in a concept note and video of their idea. That generated 3,000 entries from 15 countries and 300+ cities across the globe.

The competition then entered Phase-II in which 25 teams were shortlisted to build prototypes of their concept to showcase to an international jury of experts in March at the finals in Bangalore. Teams from India, Peru, Mexico, USA, UK, Spain and Italy made it to the list.

Other proposed experiment ideas include: radiation shielding using bacteria; effect on plant growth in lunar regolith; lunar sintering of lunar soil; inflatable dome testing; as well as a lunar gene bank for endangered species.

Brewmasters, Johnny Koo, Jared Buchanan, Han Lu Ling, Neeki Ashari, Srivaths Kalyan, and Tavish Traut.
Credit: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications


In a UCSD press statement, Neeki Ashari, a fifth year bioengineering student at UC San Diego and the team’s PR & Operations Lead: “We all appreciate the craft of beer, and some of us own our own home-brewing kits. When we heard that there was an opportunity to design an experiment that would go up on India’s moonlander, we thought we could combine our hobby with the competition by focusing on the viability of yeast in outer space.”

ALEiens technology by Team Original Gravity.
Credit: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Understanding how yeast behaves on the Moon to brewing beer in space is just one application. It’s also important for the development of pharmaceuticals and yeast-containing foods, like bread, Team Original Gravity points out. “The symbiotic relationship between humans and yeast would no doubt be vital for future colonization of the Moon and other planets.”

To view the UCSD Astrobiology Club’s submission for Lab2Moon, go to:’

For more information on TeamIndus, go to:

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