+Vid SpaceX has completed its sixth supply run to the International Space Station: the Dragon capsule, loaded up with cargo and launched on Tuesday, has finally arrived at the orbiting science lab.
The space station's Canadian-built robot arm captured the capsule at 0655 ET (1155 UTC) after SpaceX engineers guided it in a slow but steady orbital matching program. With the capsule now berthed, unloading will begin on Saturday.
Aboard the lab, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti controlled the pickup – rather fittingly, since the Dragon contains an invention suggested by her countrymen. Italian astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Luca Parmitano were on the space station in 2013 and noticed it was missing a key bit of kit: a coffee machine.
To address that deficit, the ISSpresso machine was joint effort by massive coffee conglomerate Lavazza and custom engineering shop Argotec. The 20kg machine uses stainless steel piping capable of withstanding pressures of 400 bar and can make regular espresso, caffè lungo, or hot beverages such as tea infusions and broth.
"Italian coffee is a beverage without borders and we have been thinking about taking the espresso into space for some time," said Giuseppe Lavazza, VP of Lavazza. "Today we are in a position to overcome the limits of weightlessness and enjoy a good espresso – the indisputable symbol of made in Italy products – on board the International Space Station."
The coffee maker isn't the only cargo, of course – the Dragon capsule is loaded down with 4,387 pounds (2,015kg) of cargo including scientific experiments, food and clothing, and care packages sent to the astronauts from their families back at home.
Once unloaded, the capsule will be refilled with completed experiments, trash, and dirty laundry and fired back down to Earth in a few weeks. SpaceX will then retrieve the capsule from the splashdown point in the Pacific and prepare for its next resupply mission in June. ®