Now You Can Own the NASA-Certified Space Coffee Cup

By Carl Engelking | January 4, 2017 1:26 pm
space-cup

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti takes a sip of espresso from the zero-gravity cup. (Credit: NASA)

If you’re planning a trip to space, or for some reason find yourself craving espresso while free falling, you can sip your favorite beverage like an astronaut.

IRPI, an Oregon-based firm that specializes in spacecraft fluid systems, developed a uniquely shaped mug that let astronauts drink coffee like they would on earth. Recently, they’ve spun the feat of engineering into a side hustle, called Spaceware, to sell them.

It all started back in 2008, when NASA astronaut Don Pettit had grown tired of sipping liquids out of pouches aboard the International Space Station. So Pettit reached out to IRPI and together they hatched a designs for space cup. Pettit used overhead transparency film he found aboard the space outpost to test the first prototype. He rolled the film into a teardrop-shaped container and squirted some coffee into it. It worked.

The design exploited the effects of surface tension, wetting and container geometry to recreate the experience of enjoying a beverage on terra firma. The narrow edge of the cup wicks liquid up its wall and into a thirsty mouth. Fuel tanks designed to fire in zero-gravity work on the same principle.

Years later, IRPI’s Mark Weislogel heard that the Italian Space Agency was sending an espresso machine to the ISS — called the ISSPresso — after Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano said in an interview that she missed a good cup of coffee. Weislogel saw an opportunity.

“We knew that that drink is heavily dominated by gravity on Earth. There’s CO2 bubbles that form and rise, it forms a crema, aromatics waft up — all that stuff is driven by gravity,” says Weislogel.

After testing their prototypes in Portland State University’s Dryden Drop Tower, they sent six space cups up to the ISS as part of the 2015 Capillary Beverage experiment. NASA plans to use the results of this experiment to inform designs of other fluid systems for spacecraft.

official-cup

The official, flight-certified, NASA-approved “Space Coffee Cup.” (Credit: Spaceware)

Now, the very same mug that made it to space can rest in your cupboard. For $499.95, you can have the official, 3D-printed, flight-certified “Space Coffee Cup” that’s NASA approved. Unfortunately, it’s not for everyday use and not dishwasher friendly. As Spaceware’s description indicates, “Think of this as a bit of art, science, and space history all in one.”

If you want to do a little less damage to your bank account, you can buy a porcelain version in your choice of four colors for $74.95.

“Spaceware could develop into something more — it would be fun if it did — but for now, it is more of an outreach, education and science thing for us,” Ryan Jenson, president and senior engineer at IRPI, told collectSPACE.com.

If, or when, Blue Origins starts selling tickets to space, the Space Coffee Cup is one item you’ll want to pack.

 

(h/t collectSPACE.com)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
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  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    For $499.95, you can have the official, 3D-printed” Injection mold it for $1.99 net retail. NASA needs a big dose of Trump.

    • OniLX

      It literally costs thousands of dollars for the tooling to make an injection mold.

      The 3D printed version is so you can have a version indistinguishable to one that could be found on the ISS.

      Or you could buy the porcelain version for $80, which for a kitsch item such as this isn’t too bad.

      Mass producing these things like solo cups would be entirely inappropriate for a product such as this.

      Also, it’s not being sold by NASA, it’s being sold by an indipendant company called IRPI.

      • OWilson

        We are truly blessed!

        Thank you NASA!

        • OniLX

          😉

  • Priscilla Mix

    I think its pretty cool! I love innovation, I love space, remember being little, having just watched Neil walk on the moon on our black and white tv, and being asked what I want to be when I grow up “AN ASTRONAUT”! nope, youre a girl, you cant be sorry ! yes that was the answer that I was given. now, Im old, I dont think “retail trips” to the moon are in my future, but I can go to Space Camp and pretend!

  • Colin McGinn

    Can I get the STL so I can print my own?

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