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Monday 5 December 2016

Astronauts to get their espresso coffee hit

The next space station grocery run will carry caffeine to a whole new level - an authentic espresso machine from Italy.

The SpaceX supply ship will launch its unmanned rocket with the espresso maker and 1,800kg of food, science research and other equipment from Cape Canaveral tonight.

The experimental espresso machine is intended for Italian International Space Station astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. 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.

orbit

Italian coffee giant Lavazza joined forces with the Turin engineering company Argotec and the Italian Space Agency to provide a specially designed machine for use off the planet.

Nasa's space station programme deputy manager Dan Hartman said it was all part of making astronauts feel at home as they spend months, and even up to a year, in orbit.

Mission Control already gives astronauts full access to email, phone calls, private video hook-ups and live news and sports broadcasts.

"The psychological support is very, very important," Mr Hartman said. "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 when we fly ice cream every now and then."

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