Exploring Coffee in Outer Space


Just because you're waking up in outer space doesn't mean you don't need your caffeine fix. In 1961 we began our human space flight adventure and today, more than 50 years later, Italian company Lavazza and the Italian Space Company have come up with the first ever espresso machine suitable for space. There's that small limitation like weightlessness to overcome, but the ISSpresso is a machine that is not affected by zero gravity. The strong brew will be enjoyed in capsule pouches with valves connected to the coffee machine. This has me wondering, does caffeine affect you differently in space? Is an espresso shot 7 million times more powerful to the human body when enjoyed in space? I can imagine a Starbucks space station orbiting around earth, stopping at the International Space Station (ISS) taking orders for Pumpkin Spice Lattes, or by then, we'll be into a new intergalactic flavor -- Eclipse Dark Roast anyone? Cosmic coffee perhaps? The possibilities seem endless. And while it seems that we've served "coffee" in space before - it's nothing that any earthly being would drink. We have standards, alright? The first 20 capsules will be sent up with Italy's first female astronaut into space, Samantha Cristoforetti, tomorrow. I'm not sure if there's sad irony here in that we're sending a woman to deliver coffee to the ISS. Nevertheless, sending Critoforetti to space is continuing the giant step for female cosmonauts taking flight (only 10% of all human spaceflight has been female). Cristofetti may be bringing with her good coffee, but she also brings over 500 hours of flight experience, and will continue the longest running human occupation in space on the ISS. When she takes flight tomorrow, we can expect at least a few boundaries being broken.

Photo (cc) by NASA and published under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.