Lavazza and Argotec have created a device that can help astronauts fulfill their desires for coffee outside the atmosphere.
Espresso coffee happens to be one of the things that a lot of astronauts miss the most while they’re up in the International Space Station (ISS) for a mission, but it may not be long before the astronauts on the ISS can enjoy a shot of espresso in space.
Argotec, an Italian aerospace company contracted by the European Space Agency to develop and supply space food to European astronauts on the ISS, and Italian coffee brand Lavazza are working together with the Italian Space Agency to bring authentic Italian espresso to the ISS through a specially-designed espresso machine, which they are calling the ISSpresso.
The ISSpresso machine is the first capsule-based espresso system designed to work in the extreme conditions of space, where liquids and mixtures act differently like they do on earth. The machine is designed to make the perfect Italian espresso in a weightless environment, and the coffee is served in a sealed pouch. The plastic tube that carries the water in a standard espresso machine has been replaced with a custom steel tube designed to withstand more than 400 bar of pressure.
According to the press release, the ISSpresso 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.” The machine will also be able to prepare other hot beverages like tea, infusions and broth.
David Avino, Managing Director of Argotec, stated,
This is an ultra high-tech project which has led to innovative solutions, applicable with immediate returns on Earth as well. ISSpresso is a technological challenge that meets very stringent requirements, imposed by the Italian Space Agency, in terms of technical functionality and safety. In addition to the engineering aspect, Argotec is also taking care of the European astronauts’ training and nutrition. Food provides an important psychological support and being able to enjoy a good Italian espresso may be just the right way to finish off the menu designed especially for each astronaut, helping him or her to feel closer to home.
Argotec is currently testing the ISSpresso machine at its labs before the machine is put on the Futura Mission in November. The Futura Mission is the Italian Space Agency’s second long-term mission on the ISS and will carry Air Force Captain Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian woman to go to space and possibly one of the first astronauts to drink coffee in orbit.
The ISSpresso machine will be installed at the ISS’s “corner cafe,” which serves as a hub where the astronauts can socialize, get together and chat.
Check out the video below about the project.