When I was a kid, outer space was a place for nerds. Being interested in actual space travel was completely unrewarding, as the moon landing was already old news, and liking sci-fi just meant you spent your Friday and Saturday nights alone. There wasn’t even anything to watch back then except Star Trek reruns, which were awesome but finite.
Now we’ve got a thriving sci-fi movie industry (Guardians of the Galaxy, anyone?), the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises are still expanding, and best of all, there’s an actual real-live International Space Station from which the astronauts talk to us on social media. Life is sweet.
And now those wonderful astronauts, who inspire us with their conflict-free international collaboration and their amazing photos of life above the earth, can finally have a cup of espresso. Up until now they’ve all had to suffer through the abomination that is instant coffee, which is stored in freeze-dried pouches for their use. Don’t forget that it’s an INTERNATIONAL space station, which means it’s not just Americans up there. Earthbound Americans are already quite content to drink coffee that comes in environmentally unfriendly plastic pods, so espresso isn’t always a top priority. But ask some Europeans and they’ll wax poetic on the joys of a decent cup of coffee, especially when they’re spending a year up in space, far from their casually classy sidewalk cafes.
The espresso machine arrived just in time for Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who heads back home next month. She’ll have to test it out, of course, since coffee and steam can be a delicate balance in zero gravity. It’s called the ISSpresso machine—get it?—and the company that makes it is confident in its abilities, but still tweaking and testing newer versions of it, along with working on how to develop a little (espresso-sized) cup that will work in zero-G.
That’s what’s heading towards the space station, but there’s even cooler stuff coming back from it. Retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, the former commander of the space station who wowed the social media world with an endless stream of breathtaking photos and science experiments, is already a rock star of sorts, having gone to viral superstardom with his version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”
It was the first music video ever to be filmed in space, and has been viewed over 25 million times since he first posted it in May of 2013. Bowie himself said it’s “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created.”
Now Hadfield is releasing an album of songs recorded entirely in space. He laid down the vocals and guitar tracks when he was still aboard the station, then handed them over to a producer who beefed them up with help from Canadian recording artists like The Barenaked Ladies, Ron Sexsmith, and Buck 65. The album comes out later this year.
So now we’re going to leave the world of rock and dip back into nerdism, because being nerdy is finally cool again. (Yes!) Cristoforetti, who shares the same rank as Star Trek: Voyager‘s Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), recently tweeted out a photo of herself in a Voyager uniform from inside the space station, with the espresso machine-bearing Space X Dragon freighter visible in the background.
— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) April 17, 2015
For this nerd, it doesn’t get any cooler.