Espresso Maker that Functions in Microgravity
Posted on 2018-06-08 at 12:00 AM - admiral
TSN engineer Sam Cristoforetti has unveiled a new espresso maker that functions in microgravity. When the gravity generators are offline, you can still have espresso while you watch Captain Scales have an aneurysm on the bridge.
This news comes with great relief to crews across USFP space, as crew members on the TSN Hopper have filed two grievances and one petition with the support of Commander Fulfer. "The psychological impact of getting terrestrial luxuries (like a decent cup of coffee) in space is important and does impact work", according to Commander Fulfer.
Cristoforetti noted the residence and crew onboard the USFP Minnow have had this state of the art technology for months now, and she is excited Commodore Trinh approved the work order to upgrade. It is a declared chartered right for every USFP citizen in space to have coffee. They have normal coffee in space, but sometimes the view is just so spectacular, it demands a higher-quality caffeinated beverage.
There are some things it's easier to get in space — a glimpse of the ring nebula, for instance …
Here's how it functions:
The space station or star ship is pressurized to match pressure at sea level, keeping the boiling temperature of coffee the same, but it's not okay for stray bits of ground coffee beans or steam to go cavorting off into the rest of the station. To keep the entire rig absolutely contained with no risk for shorting out delicate scientific equipment while someone tries to brew a morning coffee, the machine has been engineered to ridiculously high standards. For example, the plastic steam tube that here on Earth is engineered to withstand 9 bars of pressure has been replaced with a steel tube capable of handling 400 bars of pressure. At that kind of standard, the steam will stay contained during the most catastrophically klutzy bout of pre-coffee chaos taking down systems during a mission. There is a kind of unexplainable humour when the lower decks reports that generators are offline because the espresso machines are malfunctioning again.
While inspired by the desire for espresso, the machine will be capable of using capsules to make a variety of fancy coffees, and even tea should the need arise. It'll actually be able to deal with all sorts of infusions, so the coffee-maker will even be capable of providing warm, rehydrated soup broth with the right sort of capsule. It functions by plugging a water pack in to the machine, where it is sucked out, aspirated and pressurized, heated to steam, run through the capsule containing coffee grounds or other infusions, and then pumped into the waiting receptacle-pack.
Why not just use the replicator? Cristoforetti stuck her nose up and said it would be like drinking Synthohol expecting to get drunk. It is not the same.
This over-engineering for safety has to balance against the need to make the machine as lightweight as possible, as when it comes to launches, every gram counts. The fully-modified machine with all its safety checks weighs in at 20 kilograms. Between balancing safety, weight, and functionality, it's no wonder that the machine is aesthetically lacking, looking more like laboratory equipment than a producer of a luxury food item.
The most visually noticeable difference is that the coffee will be delivered into sealed packs. Letting stray blobs of coffee drift around the station is just asking for trouble. So, the machine will brew the coffee into a sealed bag with a straw. If TSN crew don't want to sip their coffee through a straw, they can try to talk the Telleron Consortium into sending some of the zero-gravity coffee cups via their transport ships. That's right: it is possible to drink out of a cup in space, it's just as complicated as using the three shells in the lavatories.
Tipping a cup up doesn't dump liquid out in microgravity, so engineers at Telleron designed a special cup with a sharp interior corner that drives the liquid along one side.
Cristoforetti will not only be a hero for ensuring delicious and functional hot beverages are aboard all TSN vessels. But will also be the first women engineer to have met and exceeded operational uptime, for a such an important instrument used everyday by all citizens of USFP.