Did you know that a coffee maker was recently launched into space? It’s true!
Bound for the International Space Station (ISS), the SpaceX supply ship carries a variety of necessities for the orbiting astronauts. One of those items is the ISSpresso, a coffee maker specially made to operate in space. According to a NASA document, “ISSpresso is an on board espresso maker that produces hot beverages, and consommé. Water at room temperature is heated and, under pressure, used to create an espresso for the crew member”.
Making a good cup of coffee in space is a tall order, so it was important to design a machine that is up to the challenge. Lavazza, the Italian coffee company partially responsible for ISSpresso’s design states, “Every tiniest detail of ISSpresso is designed to respond to a scientific and engineering challenge: in fact, the machine studies have enabled principles of physics and fluid dynamics to be tackled, such as the difficulty of handling liquids at high pressure and high temperature in a space environment”
The NASA document describing the machine’s function states “ISSpresso is installed near a UOP that supplies 120V DC power. After ISSpresso is physically and electrically connected, a Water Pouch is installed, and the unit is powered on. In order to utilize the ISSpresso, a NASA standard drink bag is installed, along with a capsule containing the beverage item that the crew member wishes to drink. After the item has been brewed, the used capsule and the drink bag are removed. ISSpresso is then powered off, the Water Pouch removed. ISSpresso is then disconnected from the UOP, and it is removed and stowed. ”
It sounds like a lot of work for a cup of coffee, but I doubt the astronauts are complaining!
You can see a short video about ISSpresso below.