First Espresso Machine in Space Finally Arrives at the ISS
The SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying food and supplies to the International Space Station finally arrived Friday morning. Its cargo included the world’s first espresso machine designed specifically to brew real Italian espresso for the enjoyment of astronauts in space.
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti controlled the docking of the Dragon capsule that arrived at the ISS three days after its launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida, on top of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The cargo carrier has the capacity to hold some 4,000 pounds of grocery supplies for the ISS, plus scientific experiments and equipment.
Italy provided the space espresso maker for Cristoforetti, who has been drinking instant coffee since her mission began in November 2014.
Cristoforetti was thrilled after docking the Dragon capsule filled with cargo for the orbiting space lab, saying it’s been amazing since there’s lots of science and even coffee in there, which is always exciting. After two and a half hours after docking, the Dragon capsule was securely latched onto the space station.
This espresso machine was delayed for three months due to the backlog from last year’s loss of a supply ship destroyed in a launch explosion. The crew will now enjoy freshly made espresso aboard the ISS and even after Cristoforetti’s scheduled return in May, she’s still excited to try the space espresso.
The device was developed by Lavazza Coffee and Argotec both based in Turin, Italy. Lovingly dubbed ISSpresso, the device will revolutionize the coffee making experience in space. It will use 94 degrees Celsius water passed through ground coffee in high pressure.
This scalding coffee is a natural hazard for the astronauts as it will simply form droplets and could burn the crew and electronics on board the space station.
ISSpresso will prevent this by taking water from a pouch as it pumps it around in the machine. When the water is heated, it will be placed under high pressure and will be fired through a capsule of ground coffee where it will reach 9 bar of pressure that will certify it as true Italian espresso.
To prevent further accidents, the piping of the ISSpresso can withstand pressures reaching 400 bar. The final drink will be pumped into a plastic pouch and an astronaut will drink through it with a straw.
The Dragon capsule will remain docked at the orbiting lab up until May 21 where it will return to Earth with experiments and discarded equipment. To date, it’s the only supply ship that has the capabilities to bring cargo back to Earth as other cargo spacecraft burn up into the atmosphere after a mission.
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