In April, a SpaceX supply ship brought astronauts on the International Space Station the gift of espresso. Now the machine is up and running, and the crew is celebrating in style.

Yes, that's a quote from Star Trek: Voyager.

Sam Cristoforetti had plenty of time to plan her nerdy espresso celebration. The machine, which provides crew  members with space's first-ever freshly brewed coffee, was supposed to arrive with her months ago. Because a resupply rocket exploded in October, all of the non-essential deliveries got delayed by a few months.

We wrote about the ISSpresso, which is the result of a collaboration between the Italian aerospace company Argotec and the Italian coffee company Lavazza, back when it was meant to be delivered in November. Making fresh coffee in space is so complicated that the device is actually considered one of Cristoforetti's scientific experiments:

The machine isn't totally unlike the capsule-based, single-cup makers you can buy on Earth. But it has to stand up to a few orbital brewing issues.
For starters, the whole thing has to be super leak-proof. Nobody wants floating spheres of boiling water in their face, or misplaced coffee grounds finding their way into electrical equipment. Astronauts can't even have regular bread because crumbs could be devastating -- they eat tortillas instead.
So while the tube that carries steaming water only withstands about nine bars of pressure on Earth, the space version can withstand 400 bars. That's about 5,800 pounds of pressure per square inch.
And both the water and the final coffee beverage are contained in the Capri Sun-esque pouches that astronauts slurp all their drinks from, designed to keep liquid from bubbling up and away.

It turns out that astronauts won't have to slurp their precious brew out of straws, either: Cristoferetti appears to be using one of the zero-g coffee cups recently designed by physicists at Portland State University.

NPR reports that the initial espresso shipment comes with only about 20 coffee capsules, so Cristoferetti and her crew members will have to save their espresso for special occasions. Especially because NASA still isn't sure how to deal with the used pods.

"Each cup has an individual capsule that has to be packaged separately. So there's a lot of trash and a lot of volume involved in it," Vickie Kloeris, who oversees nutrition requirements for the astronauts, told NPR. Given the cost of bringing materials to and from the ISS, it's not ideal to add more waste to the mix.

But coffee.

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