After a hard day’s space walking, astronauts would probably love nothing more than to strap themselves securely into their favorite armchair and relax with a cup of freshly brewed coffee as they…ahem…watch the world go by.
With Starbucks yet to open an outlet 250 miles above Earth (hey, give it time), space travelers have been faced with a limited number of options when it comes to beverages, though thanks to a recent collaboration between space-food specialists Argotec and coffee company Lavazza, that looks set to change.
For over a year the pair have been working on the – OK, prepare to cringe – ISSpresso coffee machine, describing it as “the first capsule-based espresso system able to work in the extreme conditions of space.”
The companies, both Italian (well, what did you expect?), said their revolutionary machine can deliver the “perfect espresso” in a weightless environment, as well as other drinks such as tea, infusions and broth.
It gets better – the machine will apparently be placed in a new ‘corner cafe’ on the ISS, “a hub for socializing on board the station.” Corner cafe?!? It seems Starbucks really does have a chance to open a branch in space.
Designing the ISSpresso was clearly no easy task, with engineers forced to overcome challenges like how to handle liquids at high pressure and high temperature in microgravity conditions.
“The machine 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,” Lavazza said in a release. Company VP Giuseppe Lavazza added that he hoped the ISSpresso will help “improve the living and nutrition quality of astronauts engaged on long missions.”
The coffee maker is set to be blasted skyward in November – together with Samantha Cristoforetti, Italy’s first female astronaut – offering coffee-loving ISS inhabitants their first taste of the bean-based drink in space (albeit via a pouch and tube).