Good luck getting a cup of coffee, much less an espresso, aboard the International Space Station -- at least that's how it's been for ISS astronauts to date. But that could all change with Lavazza's plan to launch “ISSpresso” by the end of the year.
According to the Italian coffeemaker’s press release, the company is partnering with Argotec and the Italian Space Agency to create an espresso machine to be used aboard the ISS. “Italian coffee is a beverage without borders, and we have been thinking about taking the espresso into space for some time,” Lavazza vp Giuseppe Lavazza said in a statement.
As coffee and other liquids don't behave the same way in microgravity as they do on Earth, engineers have used a capsule-based system. NASA has also been working hard to create the perfect coffee cup to use aboard the ISS, as liquids in space will not fall into a cup and drinking a beverage presents its own challenges.
The ISSpresso machine will be made of steel components to handle the pressure aboard the ISS. According to Lavazza, the machine weighs 20 kilograms (roughly 44 pounds) and complies with all safety regulations and specifications set forth by the Italian Space Agency.
In addition to espresso, ISSpresso can make tea, broths and infusions. David Avino, managing director of Argotec, said in a statement, “Our aerospace engineers have designed a new-concept coffeemaker that is safe for the astronauts and able to function in microgravity conditions.” ISSpresso will be a morale booster for astronauts aboard the ISS and will aid in the crew's nutrition.
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So who will get to have the first fresh espresso aboard the ISS? None other than ISA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian woman to go into space, notes Lavazza. She'll take the ISSpresso to the space station on the ISS Expedition 42, scheduled for Nov. 23, along with NASA astronaut Terry Virts.
A video of ISSpresso in action can be viewed below.