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Technology

Cosmic Coffee: The ISS Is Getting an Espresso Machine

D-briefBy Carl EngelkingJune 17, 2014 1:05 AM
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An ISSpresso prototype fills a pouch with caffeinated goodness. (Courtesy Argotech) Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will soon wake up to a stellar view of Earth while sipping an invigorating cup — or, actually, a pouch — of gourmet espresso. Italian companies Lavazza, a coffee brand, and Aerotec, an aerospace firm, teamed up to create a coffee machine capable of brewing eye-opening beverages in zero gravity. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will deliver the device, appropriately named the “ISSpresso,” and in so doing will also become the first Italian woman in space.

Coffee in Space

The ISSpresso can make caffe lungo, tea, broths, and, of course, espresso. The machine weighs about 45 pounds, which is 50 percent more than the terrestrial Lavazza machine. It’s also designed to be ISS-compliant. For example, the plastic tubing that carries hot water in a normal machine was replaced with a steel tube capable of resisting high pressure. The machine utilizes astronauts’ recycled urine and other waste water for brewing, and dispenses its caffeine-laden load into plastic pouches — floating blobs of hot espresso aren’t welcome in a space laboratory. Given the unique role water plays in altering the flavor of coffee, it will be interesting to see how the ISS water supply affects flavor. It is hoped the new “café” on the ISS will provide a boost in crew morale and add to the study of fluid dynamics, NBC reports. Check out the video below to learn more about this first coffee machine in space.

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