Two Italian companies, for the first time will be bringing brewed coffee to the International Space Station (ISS) in November 2014. The companies have designed an exclusive machine that will allow ISS astronauts to sip hot coffee in space as an alternative to the instant coffee -- the only choice aboard the space station.
Argotech, an Italian aerospace company and Lavazza, Italian coffee manufacturer of coffee products , have jointly worked to develop "ISSpresso" - the 20 kg machine, which they claim will provide "authentic Italian espresso" to space flyers.
ISSpresso is a greatly modified coffeemaker designed to make and dispense coffee in microgravity. In regular coffeemakers, plastic tubes are used to transport water but ISSpresso uses a steel tube that is built in such a way that it withstands high pressure to prevent leakage of any liquid.
Rather than grinding the coffee beans, the machine uses capsules. The machine, using a variety of capsules, has the capability to produce other hot beverages such as tea, café lungo, in addition to traditional espresso. Astronauts can also make use of the machine to rehydrate food aboard the space station.
"We have been thinking about taking espresso into space for some time. Today we are in a position to overcome the limits of weightlessness and enjoy a good espresso – the indisputable symbol of made in Italy products – on board the International Space Station," said Giuseppe Lavazza, vice president of the coffee retailer Lavazza, in a statement, according to NBC News.
The coffee will be served in sealed plastic pouches and can be consumed using straws as use of traditional cups is not possible in zero gravity.
The ISSpresso's arrival on the station has coincided with the launch of European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti, the first to-be Italian woman in space. Cristoforetti will deliver the specially designed machine after she arrives onboard the ISS in November.
Lavazza and Argotech representatives hope that the ISSpresso will work the same way on the ISS as regular coffeemakers on Earth.
"A sort of social network in space. [The ISSpresso will be] a venue for getting together, chatting and relaxing: an aspect that should not be ignored in missions that keep the astronauts away from home for many months in a challenging environment." Lavazza said.
The companies in a Youtube video, describe the ISSpresso as "a scientific, engineering, and flavoring challenge to offer space mission astronauts an authentic Italian espresso."
"We are proud to contribute to the promotion of the image and spreading of the Made-in-Italy brand at international or better 'space,' level," said Roberto Battiston, the president of the Italian Space Agency.
The ISSpresso, though is the first coffee machine, is not the first beverage dispenser to fly to space. Coca-Cola Company, in the mid-1990s, sent two space flights fountains to dispense carbonated soft drinks to the astronauts. The project, however, got cancelled due to some errors.
Check out for the "ISSpresso" video here.