We all love our lattes.
Indeed, I myself need an otherworldly amount of the caffeine-infused heal-alls just to function like a normal human being.
Well now, thanks to an intergalactic partnership between Italian coffee supernovae Lavazza, Italian engineering firm Argotec and the Italian Space Agency, the courageous astronauts and cosmonauts occupying the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) more than 250 miles above the Earth will be able to enjoy the soothing rocket-fueled elixir as well—in microgravity!
You might say, “Out of this world!”
Touted by Lavazza back in 2014 as “the first capsule-based espresso system able to work in the extreme conditions of space, where the principles that regulate the fluid dynamics of liquids and mixtures are very different from those typical on Earth,” this extraterrestrial (Get it?) java generator was recently delivered to those bean-fiending space explorers aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule, along with 1.8 tons of supplies.
Those space walkers must have been a-jonesin’ indeed—the ISSpresso coffeemaker was originally scheduled to arrive at the mega-space laboratory last year, reports Wired.Co.UK, but was destroyed when the Orbital Sciences Antares supply rocket transporting it exploded.
Damn. Talk about a caffeine hangover. (See what I did there, again?)
The article also states the ISSpresso was originally designed specifically to satiate the coffee fix of Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti—following her compatriot Luca Parmitano’s 2013 lament about espresso being the “only thing he really missed” in outer space, reports NPR.org—though as we all know, the magic beans are best when shared.
Unlike a terrestrial coffeemaker, this amazing creation excretes the caffeine juice into a kangaroo-like pouchler, and thirsty moonwalkers can sip that magic stuff through a lil straw!
The mesmerizing machine is unlike any other here on Earth, says Lavazza’s 2014 press release heralding its creation, explaining, for example, that “the plastic tube carrying the water inside a normal espresso machine has been replaced with a special steel tube designed to withstand barometric pressure of more than 400 bars.
“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,” it continues.
According to a September 2014 Space.com article, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was so blown away by the creation at that fateful gathering [remember: This is a guy who watches mind-bending universe-cataclysmic phenomena pretty much every waking moment] that when he witnessed its celestial brewing, “’People were dragging him away,’” joked Lavazza USA CEO Ennio Ranaboldo.
This fantastical machine will produce a brewing temperature of 167 degrees Fahrenheit, explains the piece, and will replicate the water pressure of the Earth-based espresso machines used in cafes. And the crew is all set—Lavazza is supplying the station with regular shipments of the good stuff on cargo runs, it adds—so they’ll never run out.
The ISSpresso can conjure up espresso, broth, tea, or other hot beverages one might crave while orbiting our planet in search of the meaning of life.
Milky Way, here we come!
Launched in 1998, and now the largest artificial satellite in our planet’s orbit (viewable even by the naked eye (!!)), the ISS is a giant research laboratory, home to experiments in physics, human biology, meteorology and astronomy, among many other fields.
The astronauts and cosmonauts shall now be able to conduct their exotic experimentations all jacked-up on joe!
Yes, nothing like waking up at the station to gaze at our beautiful, spherical-blue world—or perform tests to potentially unlock the secrets of the galaxies—while sippin on some fresh, steaming-hot java!
Of course, imbibing this intergalactic heal-all in near-weightlessness is not the same as simply downing a venti at your local Buckler (not to be confused with Bucks County, Pa.), or even several daily gallons among the caffeine hounds housed within the venerable Press newsroom (though that crew downs enough of the funky dark stuff to fuel an entire fleet of spaceships, I’m sure), not by any stretch of the imagination. Such a special drink will require a very special vehicle to transport the lightning juice to the space travelers’ bloodstream, and thus, besides those dainty lil straws, specially designed boot-shaped mugs were also created.
These are forged of plastic and feature transparent walls so that the courageous orbiters can see just how much of the good stuff they are holding to ensure they do not have an interplanetary miscalculation—and risk the java splashing their spacesuit’s and floating across the station, flying onto control panels or other extremely expensive and sensitive tests and equipment.
That would be an interplanetary mess, dear friends! We quite simply cannot have one of the cosmonauts shouting:
“Хьюстон! Владимир снова пролил Java! он плавает по направлению к панели управления! Быстро! кто-то передать мне тряпку!”
(Translation: “Houston! Vladimir spilled the java again! It is floating toward the control panels! Quickly! Someone hand me a rag!”)
No bueno, as my brother always says. No bueno, indeed. Talk about a “Floater.” [Press slang for—hell, use your imagination.]
And no, dear interplanetary jazz-freak pirates, unfortunately there is no Buckler up among the stars. Not yet, at least. No D-Squared, no precious Gevalia, no “Brooklyn Java,” B-Squared or “Mocha Java” blends from Fairway Market, no maple brew from Crazy Beans, no enigmatic yak-butter coffee, interstellar s’mores lattes from Sweetie Pies On Main, soul-satisfying coldbrew from Georgio’s Coffee Roasters, nor blessed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from the knowledgeable and groovy crew at The Massapequa Perkler, either, I’m afraid. [RIP, Lucky.]
Not yet. Perhaps then, the cosmic gadabouts could partake in a special zero-gravity coffee ceremony.
Alas, until then, we can always wish upon a star—or that bright twinklin’ space station as it careens by on its caffeine-propelled journey to unlocking the secrets of this wild, gorgeous, java-tweakin’ universe.