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Astronauts to get 'ISSpresso' coffee machine

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Ristretto or lungo? Not a question astronauts on the International Space Station normally have to contemplate, but that is about to change thanks to a new zero-gravity coffee machine being delivered this weekend.

The ISSpresso machine is set to boldly go to the orbital station this weekend, carried there by Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

Astronauts on the station will finally be able to enjoy a decent brew thanks to the 20-kilogramme machine designed by famed Italian coffee makers Lavazza and engineering firm Argotec, which specialises in making space food.

Cristoforetti, 37, who is also a captain in the Italian airforce, "will be not only the first female astronaut from Italy to go into space, but also the very first astronaut in the history of the conquest of space to savour an authentic Italian espresso in orbit," the two companies said in a statement.

The designers say it uses "extraterrestrial" capsules and can operate in "microgravity" conditions.

"ISSpresso is a technological achievement that conforms to the technical requirements and ultra-strict security measures imposed on us by the Italian space agency," said David Avino, Argotec's director general.

Among the challenges for the engineers was figuring out how to get the liquids flowing properly in zero gravity. Its steel components also had to be able to withstand enormous pressure.

Cristoforetti will be travelling with an American, Terry Virts, and Russian Anton Shkaplerov in a Soyuz rocket launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan -- and will stay there until May 2015.

They will join American astronaut American Barry Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova, who are returning to Earth in March.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130915/tennis-tomic-steers-australia-back-davis-cup-world-group-0