For folks on Earth, there’s nothing like brewing up a fresh cup of coffee in the morning and afternoon. Now, astronauts orbiting space can enjoy the terrestrial pleasure too.
The International Space Station is set to receive an espresso system specifically designed for zero gravity. And with all the massive amounts of work astronauts do every day, we’re sure a caffeine boost wouldn’t hurt.
Samantha Cristoforetti, Italy’s first woman astronaut, will deliver the ISSpresso machine to the orbital station this weekend. She is also the third woman astronaut in the European Space Agency, as well as a captain in the Italian Air Force.
The 20-kilogramme machine was created in collaboration by renowned Italian coffee makers Lavazza and engineering firm Argotec, which specializes in making space food.
Cristoforetti “will be not only the first female astronaut from Italy to go into space, but also the very first astronaut in the history of the conquest of space to savour an authentic Italian espresso in orbit,” both companies said in a statement.
Regarding the machine’s development, Argotec managing director David Avino previously said, “Our aerospace engineers have designed a new-concept coffeemaker, which is safe for the astronauts and able to function in microgravity conditions, also thanks to Lavazza’s experience as a leader in capsule extraction systems.”
The engineers came across many challenges while creating the product, one of which was how to get the liquids to rightly flow in zero gravity. Accordingly, the plastic tube carrying the water inside a normal espresso machine was replaced with a much more fitting steel tube in order to be able to withstand enormous pressure.
“ISSpresso is a technological achievement that conforms to the technical requirements and ultra-strict security measures imposed on us by the Italian space agency,” Avino said.
Cristoforetti will be rocketed into space in a Soyuz with American Terry Virts and Russian Anton Shkaplerov at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The three astronauts will then remain in space until May 2015.
The team will be joining American astronaut Barry Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova, who are set to return to Earth in March.