Russian spacecraft Soyuz reaches the International Space Station and delivers three astronauts, caviar and the first zero-gravity coffeemaker, which can make fresh coffee for astronauts.
On Sunday, Nov. 23, Soyuz took off form Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:01 p.m. EST and reached ISS at 9:48 p.m. on the same day. The spacecraft carried Terry Virts, an American astronaut, Anton Shkaplerov, a Russian astronaut, and Samantha Cristoforetti, Italy's first female astronaut. The trio will remain on the space station for the next six months and will also be involved in space walks.
The 37-year-old Cristoforetti revealed during a pre-launch conference that she has not done anything special to become the first Italian female to travel to space. She is an engineer, also studied at Italy's Accademia Aeronautica and is a captain and fighter pilot in the Italian Air Force.
The newly arrived astronauts bring the ISS back up to staffing levels; it was short-staffed after a few astronauts returned to Earth on Nov. 9 after spending 5.5 months in space.
Astronauts on the ISS depend on their food supplies being sent from the Earth on a regular basis. The latest cargo also included a number of food items, including caviar.
"There will be 15 boxes of 30g each of caviar, but also apples, oranges, tomatoes and 140 doses of freeze-dried milk and black tea without sugar," per a space station official.
A Russian news agency suggests that the caviar will be used by the astronauts on ISS for New Year celebrations.
The latest cargo includes something unique, which will enthrall the astronauts on board the ISS. Soyuz has also delivered ISSpresso, a custom-designed coffee machine by Italian coffee company Lavazza. The coffeemaker was made in collaboration with Argotec, which is an aerospace company specializing in making space food.
Unlike the coffee machines found on Earth that can sometimes leak, the ISSpresso is entirely leak-proof, which means there will be no boiling water droplets floating around in the space station.
Apart from the caviar and the espresso machine, Soyuz also carried biological kits, which will be used for taking urine, blood and saliva samples of the astronauts. The samples will be used to examine the effects of spaceflight on humans in space stations.
Launched in 1998, the ISS is owned and operated jointly by 16 countries and it is used as a space laboratory. It houses astronauts from various countries who perform experiments under microgravity environment. Currently, the ISS is expected to be in operation till 2024.