SpaceX Launches First Espresso Machine to the Space Station
After menacing clouds gave mission control cold feet Monday, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft launched Tuesday afternoon from Cape Canaveral.
This is the sixth resupply mission carried out by Elon Musk's private space exploration company, SpaceX, to ferry supplies to the International Space Station. Six astronauts, including yearlong residents Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko, wait there for their 4,300 pounds of equipment.
Along with supplies and science materials on the cargo list, there's a morale booster: the ISSpresso, an Italian Space Agency-developed zero-gravity espresso machine.
"The psychological support is very, very important," NASA's space station program deputy manager Dan Hartman said, according to RT. "It's just to boost spirits."
A live video of the launch was also hosted on YouTube.
But the point of this mission isn't a morale boost and a good cup of coffee.
Upon Falcon 9's return to the surface, instead of crashing down, it was supposed to softly land on a floating autonomous drone landing platform, piloted 200 miles off the Florida coast. By landing back down on Earth, it can be reused, saving SpaceX and NASA millions of dollars and potentially giving space travel a much more feasible future.
This was only the second attempt of this sort of return trip, and unfortunately it did not fare too well either. Though the launch went off without a hitch, the attempted landing was not successful.
This time, the sky is blue and the perfect environment to send a massive rocket careening out of the atmosphere. And with it, the first espresso machine ever launches into space.
With any luck, the return trip will be just as painless.
UPDATED: April 14, 6:04 p.m.