The ISSpresso: An espresso machine for space

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will soon be able to enjoy hot, freshly brewed coffee from an espresso machine designed for use in space.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr

ISS Research

If you can't get started in the morning without a hot cup o' joe, imagine how the poor astronauts aboard the ISS must feel, with their prepackaged rations.

Actually, they're about to feel a whole lot better: Italian coffee merchant Lavazza, in collaboration with engineering company Argotec (which contracts with the European Space Agency to provide spacefood to the ISS) has designed a coffee machine to provide fresh brew in space, directly in response to astronauts who have missed having coffee while in space.

It's not a full ground coffee machine -- that would get really messy in zero-g -- but a capsule model built from the ground up to operate under the space principles of fluid dynamics. The coffee is then served in a sealed pouch, allowing the astronauts to sip the coffee through a straw.

"The plastic tube carrying the water inside a normal espresso machine has been replaced with a special steel tube designed to withstand pressure of more than 400 bar," Argotec explained. "The machine is so complex that it weighs about 20 kilograms since there are back-ups of all the critical components for safety reasons in accordance with the specifications agreed upon with the Italian Space Agency."

The ISSpresso machine is currently being tested at Argotec's labs, and will be sent up to the ISS in November, courtesy of the Italian Space Agency along with the Futura Mission crew, which will include the first Italian female astronaut in space, Samantha Cristoforetti.