Wearing a Star Trek uniform for the occasion, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti became the first human to consume a coffee espresso in space. On Sunday, she posted a selfie on Twitter from the International Space Station, sipping from a specially-created zero-gravity cup.
Ms. Cristoforetti also appears to have become the first space barista. Perhaps because she is Italian, the other astronauts prefer her brew, and the rumour is that she has been named the ISSpresso (the space espresso machine) operator, i.e. the one who makes the coffee.
Ms. Cristoforetti, who is returning to Earth next week when her six-month mission ends, was lucky to get a chance to taste the ISSpresso’s brews. The specially made machine, designed and developed by Italian coffee manufacturer Lavazza, and engineering company Argotec, was supposed to have reached the International Space Station (ISS) in January, but did not make it until April because of a shipment backlog.
Ms. Cristoforetti enjoying her espresso, making history and wearing a Star Trek uniform. (Image: twitter.com/astrosamantha)
Lavazza expressed its delight at the astronaut’s comments by tweeting “Today the International Space Station feels a little more like home.”
The first capsule-based espresso system for space
Argotec says the ISSpresso is the first capsule-based espresso system able to work in the extreme conditions of space, where the principles that regulate fluid dynamics of liquids and mixtures differ significantly from those typical on Earth.
The space crew calls ISSpresso’s brews – which also include tea, caffè lungos, broth and other infusions – ‘yesterday’s coffee’ because it uses their recycled urine.
The idea to have a ‘proper’ coffee maker in space came from Luca Parmitano and Paolo Nespoli, two Italian astronauts who soon noticed there was nothing decent to drink during their visit to ISS.
Lavazza and Argontec say the machine does not only represent a technologically high-value project, it also broadens the variety of flavours in the space crew’s menu, and will help improve our understanding of the principles of fluid dynamics in conditions of zero gravity.
The ISSpresso machine, specially designed for zero-gravity use. (Image: Argotec)
Vice President of Lavazza, Giuseppe Lavazza, said:
“Italian coffee is a beverage without borders, and we have been thinking about taking the espresso into space for some time. Indeed, as far back as ten years ago we launched the espresso into orbit artistically with the photographs taken by Thierry Le Gouès and our Mission to Espresso calendar, which at the time may have looked like a work of science fiction but was actually just a vision of the future.”
“We are proud to have worked on this major project with Argotec, through the Lavazza Innovation Center, our division dedicated to research and product innovation: a scientific and engineering challenge which we hope will improve the living and nutrition quality of astronauts engaged on long missions.”
Video – ISSpresso, your space coffee maker