First whiskey and now espresso! Space travel is finally allowing some home comforts.
Last year Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti boldly went where no (wo)man has gone before – by making espresso 200 miles above earth.
According to Bloomberg, it took a team of 11 engineers a year and a half to come up with a brewing process that could meet NASA’s safety standards and also work in microgravity.
Instead of going through plastic tubes, water had to be run through thin steel pipes to ensure that it wouldn’t build up bubbles of heat. To avoid floating leaks, all piping was fitted with release valves that flush into the machine’s central chamber. Even the coffee capsule had to be redesigned and made from a material that wouldn’t give off toxic fumes if it caught fire.
The machine, named the ISSpresso in honor of the International Space Station (ISS) where it does its brewing, is so complex that it weighs about 44 lbs.
One of the only things that didn’t need a redesign was the coffee itself. Bloomberg reports that Lavazza, the Italian coffee company that led funding for the project, chose a delicate blend of Arabica.