A Giant Step for Coffee Lovers: Italian Espresso Headed To Space

PHOTO: The Italian Space Agency is sending the first espresso coffee machine to the International Space Station. Made by Lavazza and Agrotec, it is designed to withstand extreme amounts of pressure and can operate in microgravity conditions. Courtesy Lavazza
The Italian Space Agency is sending the first espresso coffee machine to the International Space Station. Made by Lavazza and Agrotec, it is designed to withstand extreme amounts of pressure and can operate in microgravity conditions.

Astronauts on the International Space Station will soon be waking up to the refreshing aroma and taste of authentic Italian coffee.

ISSpresso, an espresso machine designed by engineering company Argotec and coffee roaster Lavazza in collaboration with the Italian Space Agency, is one of the many items headed to space in April 2015.

"We have been thinking about taking the espresso into space for some time...In fact, today we are in a position to overcome the limits of weightlessness and enjoy a good espresso — the indisputable symbol of made in Italy products," said the Giuseppe Lavazza, vice-president of Lavazza in a press release.

The device is the first capsule-based coffee machine to be sent to space and the first designed to handle its microgravity conditions in which the physics behind the dynamics and movement of liquids differ from that on Earth. Microgravity refers to "zero gravity" or weightless.

"The fluid dynamic in a microgravity environment is different from the one observed on Earth," Antonio Pilello, a spokesperson for Argotec told ABC News in an email. "Since you are weightless in orbit, there is no up, down, left nor right. For this reason we designed our system to be capable of making coffees without being affected by gravity."

The machine is comprised of a steel tube to transport water while being able to tolerate over 400 bars of pressure. The machine, weighing 20 kilograms, also has extra important components to maintain safety protocols issued in accordance with specific regulations set by the Italian Space Agency.

PHOTO: The Italian Space Agency is sending the first espresso coffee machine to the International Space Station. Made by Lavazza and Agrotec, it is designed to withstand extreme amounts of pressure and can operate in microgravity conditions. Courtesy Lavazza
The Italian Space Agency is sending the first espresso coffee machine to the International Space Station. Made by Lavazza and Agrotec, it is designed to withstand extreme amounts of pressure and can operate in microgravity conditions.

ISSpresso will also offer other options, including caffe lungo, tea, infusions and broth, allowing food to be re-hydrated. Astronauts will be able to drink these substances using small pouches with valves that are inserted into and draw coffee from the machine.

Pilello told ABC News that only instant coffee is available for astronauts right now.

Work on the machine has been percolating for a year to develop and a few months to test until it was approved for space. It was originally scheduled to leave for the ISS on Nov. 23 with Samantha Cristoforetti, the first woman from Italy to travel to space. The launch date for the device was postponed for unknown reasons.

A public relations spokesperson for Lavazza confirmed to ABC News the change in date but could not comment at this time. The Italian Space Agency did not return emails for comment.

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