Going into space is one thing. But, for an Italian, going months without a proper coffee is quite another.
On Friday morning the SpaceX supply ship arrived at the International Space Station, delivering the world’s first espresso machine designed exclusively for astronauts.
This undated product image shows a prototype of Lavazza and Argotec’s ‘ISSpresso’ machine.
And Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti gave a warm welcome to the Dragon capsule, which arrived three days after its Florida launch and more than four months after her own mission began in November. Since then, she has been stuck with instant coffee.
Receiving it with the help of a giant robot arm, she said: “It’s been just amazing. Lots of science and even coffee’s in there, so that’s pretty exciting.”
The cargo carrier holds more than 4,000lb (1,800kg) of much-needed groceries, experiments and equipment.
The espresso machine is three months late because of the backlog created by last year’s loss of a supply ship in a launch explosion. Much later and the espresso machine would have missed Cristoforetti, who returns home next month. She says she can’t wait to try some space espresso.
The Dragon will remain at the orbiting lab until about 21 May, when it will be released full of experiments and discarded equipment for return to Earth. It’s the only supply ship capable of bringing items back.
Among the newly arrived research items are experiments for American astronaut Scott Kelly, who is just a few weeks into a one-year mission, which will be a record for Nasa (two Russians spent longer continuous periods in space in the 90s).
SpaceX, meanwhile, released a video showing its first-stage booster landing on an ocean platform shortly after Tuesday’s liftoff, then tipping over in flames. It was the California company’s third attempt to fly a booster rocket to the platform stationed off Florida’s north-eastern coast.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk said the platform dubbed “Just Read the Instructions” endured just minor damage. The next try will be in June on the next SpaceX supply run for Nasa.
Musk, a billionaire entrepreneur who also runs the Tesla electric car maker, wants to reuse his rockets to bring down the cost of spaceflight.