Making espresso on the International Space Station →

May 05, 2015 |

Dr. Mark Weislogel tells the fascinating story of how Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti became the first person to brew — and drink — a cup of espresso on the International Space Station thanks to the newly invented “Space Cup”:

You can imagine how many variables are at play for the drinking experience from a human factors perspective, but gravity influences many of these, too. Sinus drainage, saliva migration, time aloft, and others are reasonable microgravity-related parameters affecting one’s response to the drinking experience in space. We designed the Space Cup with the central objective of delivering the liquid passively to the lip of the cup. To do this we exploit surface tension, wetting conditions, and the special geometry of the cup itself. We have yet to learn the human-cup interaction in microgravity. The cup design forces the drinker’s nose directly over the fluid contents. But since the aromatics do not rise, one might expect a rather concentrated dose upon the first whiff. Maybe this won’t be a big deal since astronauts report a reduced sense of smell while in space, due to somewhat clogged sinuses. This is presumably due to the headward fluid redistribution that occurs in spaceflight.

The lengths some people will go to to get their morning cup of Joe.1

  1. Federico, I’m looking at you.