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Sat, Nov 29, 2008

Astronaut Invents Zero-G Coffee Cup

Can A Starbucks Onboard The ISS Be Far Behind?

Nevermind $100,000 toolbags and troublesome water reclamation units. NASA Astronaut Don Pettit (below) has come up with a REALLY useful invention: a zero-gravity cup that allows spacefarers to enjoy their coffee properly.

Reuters reports Pettit -- a former flight engineer on the International Space Station, who is also part of the current STS-126 crew onboard Endeavour -- came up with the idea by tinkering with a sheet of transparent plastic, folding it into the shape of an airplane's wing and then taping the sides together.

He perfected the device while onboard the ISS this month, so he could enjoy his coffee as he normally would on Earth.

"The way this works is the cross-section of this cup looks like an airplane wing. The narrow angle here will wick the coffee up," Pettit explained in a NASA TV video conference. "We can sip most of the fluid out of these cups and we no longer have to drink our beverages sucking through a straw in a pouch."

Pettit's self-made sippy cup has become a hit with his fellow astronauts. On Thursday, he constructed another cup for fellow crew member Stephen Bowen... and both men used their cups to toast Pettit's Thanksgiving proclamation, which included giving thanks for space exploration and "just because we're in space and we can."

Should Pettit's cup design win favor with NASA (which may be a long shot... given that it's a simple, elegant, and inexpensive solution -- Ed.) it could become part of the normal equipment complement onboard the agency's spacecraft, and the ISS.

And that's an idea that's easy to swallow... even knowing that coffee may be brewed with recycled urine.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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