After a series of delays, an astronaut finally drank the first espresso in space this weekend on the International Space Station. According to a press release, Samantha Cristoforetti has now made history twice: She is the first Italian woman in space, and also the "first astronaut in history to drink authentic Italian espresso coffee in orbit." The espresso is made with the first zero-gravity certified Italian espresso coffee machine known as ISSpresso, which finally made its way to the Space Station last month.
The space-friendly machine was created through a partnership between the Italian Space Agency, espresso maker Lavazza, and engineering company Argotec. It's 44 pounds and can actually do a lot more than make coffee. The press release notes that the ISSpresso can be used to make other hot drinks like tea, herbal infusions, and "broth for rehydrating freeze dried foods."
To drink the coffee, the ISSpresso requires that astronauts sip the hot drinks from straws inserted into specialized bags. However, Time writes that the machine was sent to space with "six specially designed microgravity coffee cups." Invented by researchers at Portland State University, the cups are 3D printed, and thanks to some fancy science, they allow astronauts to sip balls of coffee from the mug in space. NASA notes that the space-friendly cups will do more than let astronauts drink coffee: They will also "provide scientists with data on how complex fluids move in zero gravity." The data can then be applied to "fluid systems on earth," and can possibly be used to improve things like medical diagnostic testing equipment.