TURIN, Italy – The crew of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) mission VITA (Vitality, Innovation, Technology, Ability), including most notably the European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli (PICTURE), have enjoyed an authentic Italian espresso on board of the International Space Station (ISS) to celebrate International Coffee Day.
In fact, the crew has successfully tested the capsule-based espresso machine ISSpresso created by Argotec for Lavazza — in a partnership with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) — which on May 3rd 2015 during the Italian Futura mission, allowed Samantha Cristoforetti to drink the first espresso in micro-gravity conditions in history.
In its first phase, the partnership with ASI, which coordinated the experiment, allowed the ISSpresso machine to be brought to the International Space Station, and then, through negotiations with NASA, to be kept permanently operational onboard.
International Coffee Day has thus been the occasion for the two European Space Agency’s Italian astronauts to pass the baton on, from Samantha Cristoforetti to Paolo Nespoli, who is now on his third space flight and, in recent months, has been able to perform several experiments promoted by Argotec.
“We are proud to be able to celebrate International Coffee Day 400 kilometers above Earth’s surface thanks to this important 100% Italian research project developed with Argotec,” commented Marco Lavazza, Group Vice Chairman.
“ISSpresso allows Lavazza to confirm its role as a pioneer in innovation: the ISSPresso technology has allowed astronauts to enjoy in space the same blend available on ground“.
The ISSpresso machine — a true technological and engineering marvel — has thus allowed another Italian astronaut to enjoy espresso in space, just like at home. ISSPresso has been studied to replicate on orbit the same aroma enjoyable on ground: the crema and coffee are not mixed, as on Earth, but are separate, with the traditional cup replaced by a special pouch. Indeed, ISSpresso is capable of making coffee in extreme conditions, where the principles of fluid dynamics are completely different from on Earth.
The preparation process followed by the crew during the test were the same: the utmost practicality and simplicity for espresso to be enjoyed through a straw. ISSpresso meets the very stringent requirements set by NASA in terms of compatibility with the systems already present on board and those interfacing with astronauts. It also has an innovative device that allows the coffee dispensing line to be cleaned.
David Avino, Managing Director of Argotec, commented, “ISSpresso has become a permanent onboard component of the International Space Station. And after two years on the ISS in micro-gravity conditions, the machine remains fully operational, confirming the excellence of the design work. This robust, reliable design is not only capable of treating the crew to a flavourful break, but also provides fascinating opportunities for the study and analysis of physical phenomena that are impossible to replicate on Earth. This scientific interest also accompanies a green vision of the product: thanks to this system, we have already patented innovative technologies capable of eliminating the coffee and water deposits generated by machines on Earth, thus reducing water waste by up to 30%.”
Gabriele Mascetti, Head of Human Flight and Microgravity at the Italian Space Agency, commented: “The current international scenario of increasing interest in human space exploration is laying the foundation for ensuring the future presence of astronauts beyond low Earth orbit not seen since the days of the Apollo missions. The incredible financial efforts entailed by such undertakings are driving new global approaches and the growth of new markets. Within this scenario, the race to explore space is also being driven by commercial players: ISSpresso, the result of a public-private partnership, is a brilliant example of how the Italian Space Agency has succeeded in promoting interest in space through wholly private efforts. Furthermore, given the strong credibility enjoyed by ASI with NASA and solid bilateral relations, ASI has negotiated the use of ISSpresso as an onboard system of the Space Station and no longer an Italian experiment: in other words, this means that the device will remain on the Station, instead of burning up in the atmosphere, and the resources needed to keep it operational will be provided by NASA, without weighting on Italy’s rights to use of the Space Station. As a result, the astronauts living on the ISS will be able to enjoy authentic Italian coffee for a long time to come.“