To The Moon, ISSpresso... Well, To The Space Station For Now
If the crew on the International Space Station can have a zero-gravity football (aka soccer ball), they can certainly have a zero-gravity espresso machine - if no one minds drinking espresso through a straw. Two Italian companies, coffee producer Lavazza and space food expert Argotec, have developed a special espresso maker for the ISS, they aptly named the ISSpresso.
The ISSpresso machine aspirates and heats water that is drawn from a water pouch attached at the bottom of the machine. The water passes through the heater and the plastic tube is replaced by a pressure resistant steel pipe before the pouch extracts the coffee from a capsule. The coffee and water continue being pressed through the machinee until it reaches the final pouch where it can be received and consumed with a straw. Not your typical coffee bar style, but sure to be appreciated as much as a zero-gravity soccer ball!
The 13 Italian astronauts that have been on the ISS over the years, in fact, have often been quoted as saying that what they missed most was their daily espresso (or two...). Those words were all Lavazzo and Argotec needed to hear and they inspired them during the several months it took to develop their very unique espresso-maker, so complicated that it weighs almost 45 pounds.
The first espresso will be served aboard the Space Station in November 2014 to the Futura Mission crew which will include the first female Italian astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti. Espresso, as well as tea, broth, and other infusions, will be served by the ISSpresso in a 'corner cafe' on board, a space for socialization and camraderie that creates a better quality of life for astronauts while in space.
For more information about the development of the ISSpresso, read the Lavazza press release here.