CAPE CANAVERAL — Talk about a cosmic caffeine jolt. The International Space Station is getting a real Italian espresso machine.
Astronauts of all nationalities — but especially the Italians — have long grumbled about the tepid instant coffee served in pouches and sipped with straws 260 miles above Earth. The pouches and straws aren't going away, but at least the brew will pack some zero-gravity punch.
The espresso machine specially designed for space is dubbed ISSpresso — ISS for International Space Station.
Its launch early next year from Wallops Island, Va., is timed to coincide with the six-month mission of Italy's first female astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti. The 37-year-old fighter pilot and Italian air force captain will fly to the space station in November aboard a Russian capsule.
She'll be the first out-of-this-world barista.
"How cool is that?" she said in a tweet this month. "I'll get to operate the first space espresso machine!"
Italy's century-old coffee maestro Lavazza teamed up with a Turin-based engineering company, Argotec, and the Italian Space Agency to improve coffee conditions aboard the station.
Coffee-loving NASA astronaut Donald Pettit, a two-time ISS resident, said Wednesday that the espresso machine will be "a welcome addition" to space station life.
Argotec spokesman Antonio Pilello has sampled the ISSpresso espresso and gives it a thumbs-up. It is designed to operate at the same temperature and pressure as earthly espresso makers, according to the company, to guarantee taste and flavor.