Coffee, one of the most important drinks in the world, is also one of the most terrible things you consume in space. Since the Apollo days, astronauts have complained about these freeze-dried, premixed packages of coffee.
But no more! A group of freshman engineering students at Rice University have developed a solution that will let our space explorers mix exactly the right amount of sugar and creamer to their cup--er, bag of Joe.
The Rice students developed a system that uses pouches and a 3D-printed roller to help Astronauts make their own customized batch of coffee. By attaching a bag of creamer or sugar to the coffee pouch, our astronauts can use the 3D-printed roller to deliver extremely precise amounts--down to 10 milliliters--of each to their drinks.
So if you like your coffee with two creams and three sugars, you would squeeze out 20 and 30 milliliters of each, respectively. The only problem is that these pouches are not reusable, so they will have to be produced in smaller packages--something like those fast food ketchup packets. It might all seem like a much more complicated way to make your coffee, but it's a small sacrifice for the ability to make a perfectly blended drink.
The students hope their invention will be tested aboard the International Space Station, where the astronauts there still have to settle on those terrible-tasting premixed bags with a lot of sugar, a lot of creamer, or a lot of both. Now if we could only make it so the coffee didn't need to be freeze-dried...