Space exploration never sleeps. Tim Peake, a 43-year-old European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut and former Army major, showed us how they get their java fix on board the International Space Station (ISS) via a YouTube video.
The clip starts with a short tour of the Node 1, which is also called "Unity." If you've seen "The Martian," this is where the crew's food and drink are stored in small cabinets.
Unfortunately, astronauts can't enjoy their cup of joe in ceramic mugs or even in takeaway coffee cups. They can, however, enjoy their "coffee pouch" with a spectacular view of the planet Earth and the stars.
Coffee in space is served in small silver pouches to keep the liquid from leaking and floating all over the ISS. The small silver pouches are similar to those old school lunch box juice pouches before they developed the tetra pack versions.
In the YouTube video, Peake opens a small pantry cabinet and picks a "Coffee With Cream And Sugar Substitute" option. The coffee pouches are sealed dry, which means they don't have water yet when they are sent out and stored in space.
Peake inserts the neck of the coffee pouch into machine slot that dispenses hot water. The machine is called the "Rehydration Station." A few seconds later, the coffee pouch is filled with hot water. Using a plastic straw, Peake sips his coffee.
"Insert the straw, take the cap off and drink," Peake says in the YouTube video.
We can only assume that, unlike the real thing, the quality of space coffee isn't as half as good as it is back here on Earth. But for now, given the flurry of activities onboard the ISS this week, our astronauts need their caffeine fix. Peake has a six-month tenure on board the ISS. We're pretty sure that after this, a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee will be on his must-have list back here on Planet Earth.
There is also specialized space-espresso machine developed by Lavazza, an Italian coffee enterprise, in collaboration with Argotec, an Italian engineering company that provides food for the ISS crew via the ESA. The space coffee maker was aptly called the "ISSpresso," but Peake didn't use this in the YouTube video.
The ISSpresso, on the other hand, heats water and shoots it through a capsule which contains the drink's other ingredients. A tube then releases the drink into a plastic pouch. Astronauts still need a straw to enjoy the drink, but unlike the one Peake used in the video, the plastic pouch for ISSpresso is clear. The ISSpresso has various capsules, not just coffee, so the crew can use it to make other liquid delights such as broth and tea.