Science has helped astronauts living on the International Space Station (ISS) eat and drink some consumables similar to what we can easily purchase at a grocery store, such as dehydrated ice cream and meat paste in tubes. However, space travelers have had to go without one beverage that we all find quite vital to everyday lives–coffee. Okay, so that’s not totally true. Astronauts have always had coffee similar to dehydrated ice cream: a dry powder mixed with water that is a poorer substitute than instant coffee mix.
But thanks to Argotec, an Italian aerospace company, and Lavazza, an Italian coffee roaster, the ISS may soon have its own honest-to-God coffeemaker, the ISSpresso. If approved and if it indeed works, the ISSpresso will brew hot coffee to these deprived astronauts.
The ISSpresso coffeemaker works like a Keurig or a coffee pod. The coffee is stored in a capsule, and hot water is run through it to brew into a cup. Argotec had to come up with a way for the hot water to successful pour through the capsule and then the cup in a zero-gravity environment.
The first prototype of the ISSpresso was created a year ago, and Argotec is continuing to test the current model to ensure it will handle space travel. Since there are so many unknowns with the machine and how it will work in space, it has an obscene number of backup systems that weigh it all down to 44 pounds.
The goal is to send the coffeemaker to the ISS in November, right when Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is expected to check in to the space station. Coincidence that this Italian-made machine is slated for launch when an Italian astronaut is scheduled to arrive? Yeah, it’s a little doubtful, but hey, it’s doubtful any of the astronauts in waiting will complain about it when they get real coffee, as long as they get it.