Life aboard the International Space Station means you have to say goodbye to a lot of conventional Earth comforts, at least until they can be engineered to safely exist in microgravity.


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NASA astronauts, engineers, and designers are always working on new ways to make little luxuries of a home a reality in orbit. This includes taking on one challenge that can be especially hard on java lovers: trying to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in space.

A Previous Experiment And A New Espresso Machine
Astronauts are able have cup-of-joe in orbit, at least without the cup. Coffee time in microgravity typically means drinking coffee through a straw in an otherwise closed off container.

This prevents the hot beverage from floating freely and creating a less than safe situation, but it’s also far removed from the experience of enjoying a cup of coffee here on Earth.

Taking a full, natural sip and enjoying the aroma of coffee aboard the ISS is not an easy thing to do, but a new, complexly designed cup, could change that.

Findings gained through NASA’s Capillary Flow Experiment and the ability to 3D print polymer glass into complex and precise shapes have resulted in a coffee cup that’s suitable for orbit. It seems the innovation couldn’t have come soon enough as the International Space Station now has an espresso machine.

A Better Cup For A Better Coffee Break
The microgravity coffee cup is able to contain and channel liquid as a result of its unique shape. Though the cup is still technically open it doesn’t look much like any conventional mug. It form  looks more like a cross between a teacup and a baby bootie with a special sharp corner.

This corner causes the coffee to flow to the drinker’s mouth rather than slosh freely from the cup’s opening or cling to the walls as a result of surface tension. It also enables the drinker the smell the coffee as he or she lifts it to their nose and take fuller, more natural gulps.

Fluid Dynamics For Fuel And Caffeine Transfers 
NASA’s Capillary Flow Experiment that directly contributed to this innovation wasn’t originally intended to help astronauts better enjoy coffee or any other beverage.

The experiment was focus on fluid dynamics for purposes of improving fuel transfers in space. The new space cup is just a nice byproduct—one that any coffee lover in microgravity would be pleased to have.

Share your thoughts on this development in the comments.

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