An espresso machine is being installed in the International
Space Station to satisfy astronauts’ craving for social situations
when hurtling around the Earth at seven kilometres per second.
The ISSpresso — that’s what they called it, we swear — was
built by Italian coffee kings Lavazza in conjunction with Argotec
and the Italian Space Agency. The machine, which weighs 20kg with
all the additional safety mechanisms, will be accompanying Air
Force Captain Samantha Cristoforetti — Italy’s first woman into
space — in November this year.
A number of modifications have needed to be made to perfect the
art of java in microgravity conditions. Luckily, as the ISS is
pressurised to sea level (one atmosphere) the boiling temperature
of water isn’t affected. But due to the nature of pressurising a
liquid to pass it through a capsule of ground coffee beans in a
highly sensitive scientific environment, some precautions have been
taken. Such as the steam pipe, what would be a plastic tubing in
your local Starbucks is replaced with a steel tube capable of
withstanding 400bar of pressure (much higher than the 9bar
specified by the Italian Espresso National Institute for
making a Certified Italian Espresso).
The method of delivery has had to be changed slightly as
well, on account of the way liquids like to behave when not
constrained by the cruel shackles of gravity. Water on the ISS is
stored in small pouches, not unlike saline bags. The mechanism of
output for the ISSpresso has had to match accordingly, meaning
astronauts will have to enjoy their caffè lungo through a straw.
Still, it’s better than the alternative.
According to Giuseppe Lavazza, who undertook this project as a
personal challenge, the most common feedback from astronauts
revealed one of the most missed commodities in space is the humble
espresso. The introduction of a “corner cafe” is expected to help
overcome the isolating and challenging environment astronauts have
to work in, while also giving them a little home comfort while they
float hundreds of miles above their own.
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14 June 2014 | 10:00 am – Source: wired.co.uk