Has Alcohol Ever Been Consumed in Space?

Some would say that the Soviet Union lost the Space Race by not landing a man on the Moon, but the cosmonauts aboard the Mir space station might not have minded too much.

Soviet cosmonauts sometimes brought cognac on missions to the Mir space station.
Soviet cosmonauts sometimes brought cognac on missions to the Mir space station.

During their space journeys in the 1980s and 1990s, cosmonauts routinely brought alcohol with them -- most often in the form of cognac. Naturally, having alcoholic drinks in space was against protocol, but everyone turned a blind eye to the practice because it was seen as beneficial to helping cosmonauts relax and get past the isolation of space.

Some Russian physicians went so far as urging the allowance of cognac, which they believed would benefit the cosmonauts' immune systems and help keep them in good health.

"The Russian and European side of the program — then principally men — were up there 24/7, and come Saturday they [had] a day off, and they would have some cognac or some vodka and watch some movies or read a book or just chill on a Saturday," said Jeffrey Manber, who worked as a contractor for the Russian space program.

Even visiting Americans got a taste, according to astronaut John Grunsfeld. "About mid-mission, while docked to the Mir space station, we were invited over to the Mir for a social event," he said. "When we were over there Valeri [Korzun] came up with a little bottle. And someone asked 'Oh, is that vodka?' and Valeri said, 'No. no. We would never carry vodka to space. It’s cognac.'"

Here's to your health:

  • Research suggests that drinking in moderation is heart healthy, cutting your risks of heart attack and stroke by as much as 40 percent.

  • Beer drinkers are 41 percent less likely to suffer from kidney stones, while wine drinkers cut their risk by 33 percent.

  • A 12-year study found that people who drank a small amount of wine over the course of a week cut their mortality risk by 25 percent.

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