A long time ago,space food was a kitsch little thing to buy the kids and fuel their dreams of being astronauts. Now space food is getting an upgrade as the first Italian woman in space will also be the first person to ever taste coffee that has been brewed in space. Italian coffee maker Lavazza partnered with engineering company Argotec to create a zero-gravity coffee machine that could deliver a delicious morning brew to the people closest to the sun. Samantha Cristoforetti, the Italian astronaut, will be delivering her countrymen’s efforts and tasting the result while savoring her own sweet victory over gravity and a fair amount of sexism. While the International Space Station getting a coffee machine is news in and of itself, so is Cristoforetti who will be delivering it.
With the greatest view of the sunrise there ever was, some may be wondering why it took so long to get those brave men and women on the International Space Station some good coffee to go along with it. Instant coffee is all they have at the moment, but it is no substitute for the freshly brewed aromatic deliciousness that is a fresh espresso. Apparently that is what Lavazza was thinking and along with some help from Argotec they will be supplying Italian espresso to the astronauts who want it. The space coffee machine “ISSpresso” has been specifically engineered to withstand the immense pressure of space travel. The beverage is dispensed into plastic pouches which prevent the precious caffeinated liquid from floating away and marring any space-keyboards. Plastic pouches may be reminiscent of Tang, the notorious food of the future, but the contents will be infinitely better.
The International Space Station will be receiving its new coffee machine from the hands of Cristoforetti, Italy’s first woman in space and an Air Force captain. At 37-years-old, this may be considered the crowning achievement of an already stellar career, but her reaction to sexism in the realm of space exploration is equally admirable. Her arrival at the station along with Russian cosmonaut Elena Serova is only the second time that two women have been part of the crew at the same time. The imbalance in numbers between male crew and female crew is marked by this statistical anomaly, but there is surprisingly little sexism from the press, or at least the Western press.
Crisotoforetti’s Russian counterpart on the International Space Station did receive some truly cliché remarks about her journey to the stars. She was asked about her hair and make-up and not in the context of the cool videos that some astronauts have put up of themselves washing their hair in zero-gravity. These questions were about whether make-up would be part of her luggage and how she was going to wear her hair. Far from giving any fashion tips, Serova shot back at the reporter, asking why that same question was not being asked of her male fellow crewmember. Sadly, the press did not ask her any questions about the coffee machine or she might have given them a good answer for that as well.
Getting the first coffee machine in space, the first Italian woman in space and a smattering of sexism – the International Space Station is one of the most exciting places not on earth. The mission being undertaken by astronauts Cristoforetti, Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev is epic even without the news about the coffee machine. For six months, they will be enjoying themselves in space, doing what has to be a dream job. The world is officially one step closer to being able to live comfortably in space thanks to these fine people and some caffeinated engineers who have provided this morning necessity to the International Space Station.
By Lydia Bradbury