Coffee In Space

Donald Pettit demonstrated his zero-gravity coffee cup on the space station in 2008. NASA TV

Thanks to Mary Robinette Kowal for this very brief note from history demonstrating how the need for caffeine was the mother of invention:

The first patented invention made in space was a coffee cup.

In November 2008, Donald Pettit wanted to drink his tea and coffee from an open vessel.

Samantha Cristoforetti, a European Space Agency astronaut, with the new ISSpresso machine in 2015. NASA

While aboard the I.S.S., he tore out a plastic divider from his Flight Data File and used the magic of fluid dynamics to create an open cup. Until then, astronauts drank everything out of a plastic bag with a straw.

We interact with coffee through aroma as much as through taste. In a bag, half of the experience was gone; Dr. Pettit said that he wanted to add “back the dimension of what it’s like to be a human being.”

When Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian woman in space, went to the I.S.S., the Italian Space Agency in collaboration with Lavazza and Argotec, built a zero-g espresso machine, the ISSpresso. To save her from drinking espresso in a bag, Mark Weislogel, an engineer at Portland State university, designed a true ‘zero-g cup’ based on Dr. Pettit’s invention.

In 2015, as Dr. Kjell Lindgren was preparing to launch for NASA, he had concerns about coffee.

“I love coffee and I was worried that our standard freeze-dried brew wasn’t going to cut it,” he said…

Read the whole story here.

3 thoughts on “Coffee In Space

    • Good to hear from you again! It’s a great story, isn’t it?! We’re not sure how we missed it when it first came out, but happy that the Science section of the NYTimes revisited the story so we could see share it now. Cheers to Coffee!

  1. Pingback: Coffee In Space - Quantuse

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