The International Space Station is set to get an espresso maker. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is waiting since last November for it.
Today's SpaceX CRS-6 mission will finally bring the first Espresso Maker to the International Space Station. The ISSpresso was already scheduled to arrive in November of last year at the ISS, but the delivery had been delayed. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti had to wait several months for a nice cup of Italian Espresso. In only two days the ISSpresso should arrive at the ISS, if everything goes well with today's launch.
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The ISSpresso has been developed by Italian coffee brand Lavazza, Argotec and the Italian Space Agency last year. The machine is the first capsule-based espresso system able to work in the extreme conditions of space, where the principles that regulate the fluid dynamics of liquids and mixtures are very different from those typical on Earth.
Extra measures had to be taken to make espresso in space. For instance the plastic tube carrying the water inside a normal espresso machine has been replaced with a special steel tube designed to withstand pressure of more than 400 bar.
The ISSpresso is so complex that it weighs about 20 kilograms since there are back-ups of all the critical components for safety reasons in accordance with the specifications agreed upon with the Italian Space Agency.
In order to utilize the ISSpresso, a NASA standard drink bag is installed, along with a capsule containing the beverage item that the crew member wishes to drink. After the item has been brewed, the used capsule and the drink bag are removed.
While the ISSpresso is making real espresso, austronauts have to drink it out of a plastic bag and not from a traditional espresso cup.
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The SpaceX CRS-6 mission is scheduled to launch at 4:33pm EDT.