Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti tried out a new espresso maker in space, as an science experiment.
Cristoforetti brewed her first cup of espresso in space as teams of engineers watched her moves from Earth. Video recorded aboard the International Space Station showed both Cristoforetti and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tasting a freshly made espresso.
The astronauts drank the coffee from 3D-printed coffee cups which were specially designed to keep the coffee from getting out because of the lack of gravity.
Called ISSpresso, the espresso machine was produced by Lavazza, a company specialized in coffee products in Italy, and Argotec, another Italian company which supplies food to space station crews and aids in the training of European astronauts for space missions.
The machine makes espresso from capsules, working in the same way as many coffee makers on Earth, but making the device to function in weightlessness was a big challenge. Engineers will study the machine’s performance, wanting to understand how fluid mixtures behave in space.
“With the successful conclusion of today’s experiment, we have completed the challenge we set ourselves almost a year ago when we presented the project, not only overcoming the limits of weightlessness and allowing the astronauts on board the International Space Station to drink excellent espresso coffee, that undisputed symbol of Italian made products, but also improving our knowledge about fluid dynamics,” said Giuseppe Lavazza, vice president of Lavazza.
Argotec announced the astronauts can make use of the espresso machine to brew not only coffee, but also tea, broth and other hot drinks. This experiment could help improve brewing technologies in the future.
The 55-pound device is made of heavy-duty steel parts which replace plastic components found on terrestrial espresso machines. It got to the space station in April on board of the SpaceX Dragon supply ship.
Astronauts usually drink beverages from bags with the help of a straw. Without gravity, liquid can will float out of normal cups, and it is impossible to pour a drink in space. The special plastic cups made to taste espresso in space target the solving of this problem.
Using mathematical models, scientists made the cups with calculated geometric shapes in order to keep the drink inside. Experts announced that a notch on the rim of the container offers astronauts the possibility to taste and smell the coffee.
A capillary link is established when an astronaut touches the cup with the lips, giving access to its contents, said Mark Weislogel of Portland State University, who leads the team which developed the coffee containers.
Image Source: Mashable