High­est caf­feine high: ISS to get espresso maker

The China Post - - LIFE - BY MAR­CIA DUNN

The next space sta­tion gro­cery run will carry caf­feine to a whole new level: Aboard the SpaceX sup­ply ship is an au­then­tic espresso ma­chine straight from Italy.

SpaceX is sched­uled to launch its un­manned rocket with the espresso maker — and 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilo­grams) of food, science re­search and other equip­ment — Mon­day af­ter­noon.

The ex­per­i­men­tal espresso ma­chine is in­tended for In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion as­tro­naut Sa­man­tha Cristo­fore­tti of Italy. It was sup­posed to ar­rive in Jan­uary, shortly af­ter her ar­rival, so she could get some re­lief from the sta­tion’s in­stant cof­fee. But it ended up on the back burner af­ter a sta­tion ship­ment from Vir­ginia was lost in a launch ex­plo­sion.

The espresso maker is dubbed ISS­presso — ISS stand­ing for In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion. Ital­ian cof­fee gi­ant Lavazza joined forces with the Turin-based en­gi­neer­ing com­pany Ar­gotec and the Ital­ian Space Agency to pro­vide a spe­cially de­signed ma­chine for use off the planet. NASA cer­ti­fied its safety.

NASA’s space sta­tion pro­gram deputy manager, Dan Hartman, said it’s all part of mak­ing as­tro­nauts feel at home as they spend months — and even up to a year — in or­bit. Al­ready, Mission Con­trol gives as­tro­nauts full ac­cess to email, phone calls, pri­vate video hookups, and live news and sports broad­casts. “The psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port very, very im­por­tant,” Hart-

is man told re­porters Sun­day. “If an espresso ma­chine comes back and we get a lot of great com­ments from the crew ... It’s kind of like the ice cream thing, right, when we fly ice cream ev­ery now and then. It’s just to boost spir­its. Maybe some rough day, a scoop of ice cream gets them over that hump kind of thing.”

The SpaceX Dragon sup­ply ship also holds ex­per­i­ments for NASA’s one-year space sta­tion res­i­dent Scott Kelly, who moved in a cou­ple weeks ago. Rus­sian cos­mo­naut Mikhail Kornienko also will re­main on board un­til March 2016.

This will be the Cal­i­for­ni­abased SpaceX com­pany’s sev­enth sta­tion sup­ply run since 2012, all from Cape Canaveral.

For the third time, SpaceX will at­tempt to land its left­over booster ver­ti­cally on an ocean barge. Both pre­vi­ous tests failed.

Im­prove­ments to the first-stage booster and float­ing plat­form — based on lessons learned from the Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary at­tempts — should boost the odds of suc­cess this time to 75 per­cent or maybe 80 per­cent, said Hans Koenigs­mann, vice pres­i­dent of mission as­sur­ance for SpaceX.

SpaceX’s bil­lion­aire founder Elon Musk wants to save time and money by reusing the boost­ers nor­mally dis­carded in the At­lantic. In fact, the com­pany is trans­form­ing a for­mer mis­sile-launch­ing site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Sta­tion into a land­ing pad for its rev­o­lu­tion­ary fly­back boost­ers.

Mon­day’s launch time is 4:33 p.m. Fore­cast­ers put the odds of good weather at 60 per­cent.

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