Come and have a coffee …in the space!

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Lavazza - Argotech ISSpressoJust Samantha Cristoforetti, at present one of the most popular persons in Italy, drank the first Italian espresso prepared in the space. It happened at 12.44 on May 3rd 2015, when the Air Force captain, committed to Futura mission, used ISSpresso, implemented by Argotec and Lavazza, the first espresso capsule machine able to operate under extreme conditions in the space. ISSpresso is one of the nine experiments selected by the Italian Space Agency for Samantha Cristoforetti’s Futura mission and it is not only the Made in Italy symbol that conquers the space station but also the fruit of a forefront scientific research. In the course of the studies carried out for the development of ISSpresso coffee machine, they dealt with fluid-dynamics principles including the difficult management of high-pressure and high-temperature liquids under micro-gravity conditions. The outcome is a complex appliance, with sizes of 43x36x42 centimetres, which reaches a weight of about 27 kilos. The overall mass of ISSpresso is characterized by the presence of an external structure made of sturdy walls of aerospace aluminium (Al 7075 T7351) certified according to standards and processes used in the space industry able to bear the structural loads transmitted during the launch phase. Besides, the weight gap between ISSpresso and an off-shelf entry-level machine must also be ascribed to the fact that all critical components are redundant, according to the severe requisites imposed by Asi and Nasa agencies to grant the safety of astronauts and the compatibility with the systems of ISS. Due to safety, for instance, they have implemented a door as further measure against astronauts’ eventual contact with high-temperature liquids. They selected Lexan material for this component since it complies with structural requisites, providing the astronaut with the possibility of visualizing pouches during the coffee dispensing.