A major advance for coffee-loving space explorers came from one particular astronaut: Ellison Onizuka. In the 1980s, he suggested that space missions provide a Kona blend of coffee from his home state of Hawaii -- and NASA obliged.
NASA provides a small "bonus" package of American foods as a courtesy to Russian cosmonauts whenever it sends up victuals for its astronauts. The American food item most requested by Russians? Our Kona coffee. (Cosmonauts prefer tea from their home country, however.)
This photo from 2003 shows a Russian cosmonaut (left) and a US science officer eating in front of the all-important hot-water dispenser onboard the International Space Station.
The new ISSpresso machine comes with unique space-friendly quirks: water is injected from a pouch into the machine; passed though a cartridge much like a K-Cup; and then pushed out, piping hot, from a separate valve.
After every three to four cups, ISS crew members will have to clean the machine.
The zero-g coffee cup, modeled here by astronaut Don Pettit, is shaped like an aircraft wing. That shape helps keep moisture from escaping into places it shouldn't be...say, a delicate science experiment onboard the ISS.
Since hearing about the new ISSpresso machine and its use of K-Cup-like capsules, coffee companies have been begging NASA for the opportunity to provide K-Cups for ISS crew. One small problem: typical K-Cups won't fit in the unique ISSpresso machine.