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Italians Create Zero-Gravity Espresso Machine for Astronauts at International Space Station

By Chaka Phillips staff@sciencetimes.com | Jul 08, 2014 11:25 PM EDT

How will you have your next espresso? Perhaps in outer space, the Italians will be bringing it.

Announced this week, Italian companies Lavazza, an Espresso brewer and machine maker, along withArgotec, an engineering company, are going to bring espresso to the International Space Station (ISS). The name of the espresso is "ISSpresso" (pronounced I-S-S-PRESS-o), in honor of the space station.

What was the genesis of the ISSpresso? The Italians.

Astronauts on the ISS have long been complaining about the coffee in outer space, but it was namely the Italians who were adamantly against the weak instant coffee, which is served in pouches then drank with straws at the space station, according to NBC News. With Lavazza and Argotec's new coffee, it should be different, albeit the astronauts will still have to drink the espresso in the pouches, but it will be freshly brewed.

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The ISSpresso will be the first capsule-based espresso system that will have the ability to work in extreme conditions, such as zero-gravity. Lavazza officials stated in a press release that the rules and principles that control the fluid "dynamics of liquids and mixtures" are comparatively different in space than on Earth, Tech Times reported.

Argotec and an Italian aerospace company worked together to develop this new kind of coffee maker. They have also been working to make food in outer space not only nutritious, but also tasty.

Argotec Managing Director David Avino said that food provides psychological support and having "a good Italian espresso" is perhaps the best way to finish a meal, especially if you are an astronaut.

This ISSpresso machine is a prototype, but it is already in its testing phase. Nearly all of machine's parts had to be redesigned and fitted so that it could work in microgravity, Tech Times reported. The space-age coffee maker is expected to arrive at the ISS by November of this year. Plans are also underway to have a "corner cafe" in the ISS once the machine arrives.

Lavazza is just as excited about this new project as Argotec is. The company's vice president, Giuseppe Lavazza, said that they have had this idea for several years -- at least 10 years in the making.

"Ten years ago we launched the espresso into orbit artistically with the photographs taken by Thierry Le Gouès and our Mission to Espresso calendar, which at the time looked like a work of science fiction but was actually just a vision of the future," Lavazza said, The Local reported.

The ISSpresso is not the only item making history at the ISS.

Besides the ISSpresso, The Local, an Italian publication, reported that astronauts will also have their choice of a caffé lungo and other hot beverages.

In addition, Samantha Cristoforetti will be the first Italian woman in space when she launches to the ISS, according to Tech Times. She is also expected to arrive in November of this year; her mission has been dubbed "Futura."

Cristoforetti will also be the first person to make and drink the espresso in outer space; an outer space barista, if you will.

Cristoforetti's arrival at the ISS will mark the second long-term mission for the Italian Space Agency (ISA). She is also an Air Force Captain who will be traveling to the ISS as a member of the European Space Agency (ESA), Tech Times reported.

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