TOKYO • An unmanned cargo ship loaded with emergency supplies - including Japanese whisky - successfully docked at the International Space Station, officials said.
But thirsty astronauts will have to keep their hands off the golden tipple - it is for an 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 early yesterday.
The cargo ship will leave the ISS and re-enter the earth's atmosphere in late September, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
In June, the unmanned SpaceX rocket exploded minutes after lift-off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, marking a major setback for the company headed by tech 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 astronauts living in orbit.