CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The next space station grocery run will carry caffeine to a whole new level: Aboard the SpaceX supply ship is an authentic espresso machine straight from Italy.
SpaceX is scheduled to launch its unmanned rocket with the espresso maker — and 4,000 pounds of food, science research and other equipment — Monday afternoon.
The experimental espresso machine is intended for International Space Station astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy. It was supposed to arrive in January, shortly after her arrival, so she could get some relief from the station's instant coffee. But it ended up on the back burner after a station shipment from Virginia was lost in a launch explosion.
The espresso maker is dubbed ISSpresso — ISS standing for International Space Station. Italian coffee giant Lavazza joined forces with the Turin-based engineering company Argotec and the Italian Space Agency to provide a specially designed machine for use off the planet. NASA certified its safety.
The SpaceX Dragon supply ship also holds experiments for NASA's one-year space station resident Scott Kelly, who moved in a couple weeks ago. Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko also will remain on board until March 2016.
This will be the California-based SpaceX company's seventh station supply run since 2012, all from Cape Canaveral.
For the third time, SpaceX will attempt to land its leftover booster vertically on an ocean barge. Both previous tests failed.
SpaceX's billionaire founder Elon Musk wants to save time and money by reusing the first-stage boosters normally discarded in the Atlantic. In fact, the company is transforming a former missile-launching site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station into a landing pad for its revolutionary flyback boosters.
Monday's launch time is 4:33 p.m. Forecasters put the odds of good weather at 60 percent.