What Do You Call Italian Coffee for the International Space Station? ISSpresso!

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 16 2014 6:17 PM

What Do You Call Italian Coffee for the International Space Station? ISSpresso!

isspresso
Well, it's definitely not Tang.

Image from Lavazza.

It sounds like a corny joke (which it is), but ISSpresso is also the name of the new instant espresso machine that will be going to the International Space Station in November. The astronauts need their coffee!

Italian espresso giant Lavazza teamed up with Argotec (an engineering company that develops food solutions for the ISS) and the Italian Space Agency to specially design an espresso machine for the ISS. The machine can boil water normally because the ISS has pressurization equivalent to sea level (also called one atmosphere). The tubes that shoot water through the coffee, though, had to be made of steel instead of plastic so there wouldn't be an explosion risk. Which, yeah, that's pretty important on the ISS (though it might make for a good sequel to Gravity). All the safety tweaks make the espresso machine about 44 pounds.

It will travel to the ISS this fall with Air Force Captain Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy. Lavazza's video about the project (below) says that ISSpresso is, "A scientific, engineering and flavouring challenge to offer space mission astronauts an authentic Italian espresso." Of course, it's not quite authentic to drink an espresso through a straw, but the astronauts probably won't mind.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.