Coffee in Space
With Major Tim Peake currently serving onboard the International Space Station we at UKVending casually asked around the office ‘how does he get to enjoy a refreshing cup of coffee whilst floating around in space?’
The most obvious answer is…with difficulty and the second is…carefully. Major Peake, however, is not alone amongst the astronauts and cosmonauts onboard the International Space Station in liking coffee and when missions can last between six months to a year, doing without your favourite beverage can be something of a morale breaker. Unlike many astronauts before him Major Tim Peake doesn’t have to fondly remember the taste and texture of his favourite beverage as the space station has its very own expresso machine, and appropriately enough it was Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti who first tried it out in April 2015 after it was delivered by a SpaceX rocket, along with 450 grams of caviar no less!
To make an Expresso machine work in zero gravity, however, was something of an engineering challenge to say the least! The machine has been given the name ISSpresso (ISS being International Space Station). Built by the Italian Space Agency and the engineering firm Argotec and coffee company Lavazza, the engineers had to completely rethink how conventional coffee is made. Special attention was paid to the effects of micro gravity as well as keeping the machine safe to use. Water droplets and coffee granules floating around the space station could, after all, prove to be dangerous.
ISSexpresso came with just 20 coffee capsules, similar to those used in UKVending’s Flavia machine range. Each of the space coffee’s were individually wrapped and could be used just the once. Unlike back here on Earth, however, the astronauts were left with a tricky problem, what to do with the used capsules; after all they could not simply throw it in the trash cans and watch as dustcarts carried them away for disposal.
NASA and the European Space Agency are working on the problem as well as finding alternative uses for the ISSexpresso machine including, eventually, letting it make and getting astronauts to consume medicines.
If you’ll pardon the pun but for the future of coffee….watch this space.