Thanks to the difficulties of engineering for zero-gravity, astronauts living on the International Space Station often have to go without creature comforts we take for granted. But if all goes well, they’ll soon have one comfort that many here on Earth take for granted in the morning – a real, brewed cup of coffee.
Currently, most drinks on the International Space Station – including coffee – come as dry powders that are mixed with water. But the ISSpresso, a joint venture of Italian aerospace company Argotec and Italian coffee maker Lavazza, will actually provide hot, brewed coffee to the astronauts rather than allowing them to suffer with instant.
Conceptually, the coffee brewer works like a Keurig or other similar brewer. The espresso or coffee is in a capsule, and hot water is poured through it to brew. Of course, zero-gravity makes the engineering a little more complicated than simply pouring it into a cup. Materials had to be used to adjust to pressure, and the engineering had to take into account the different dynamics of liquids in zero gravity.
“Italian coffee is a beverage without borders,” Giuseppe Lavazza, Vice President of Lavazza said in a statement. “And we have been thinking about taking the espresso into space for some time.”
The first prototype of the ISSpresso was built a year ago, and the currently model for the ISS is undergoing testing to ensure its ready for space travel. Due to safety and engineering concerns, the machine contains so many backup and safety systems that it actually weighs about 44 pounds.
If everything checks out, though, then the ISSpresso will travel to the International Space Station in November. That will be just in time for Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to get a taste of her homeland’s coffee, as she’s scheduled to arrive on the station in November as well. Cristoforetti will be the first female Italian astronaut to make it to the station.
Judging by her Twitter feed, Cristoforetti is pretty excited about that prospect. “”How cool is that?” she tweeted. “During #Futura42 I’ll get to operate the first space espresso machine!”