How do people drink out of cups (an activity which heavily relies on the presence of gravity) in space?

I know they could try to wait for the liquid to 'split up' and try to catch a chunk, but is there some sort of a 'special space cup' they could use for their coffees?

  • 1
    The vehicle could be spinning, creating "artificial gravity" with centripetal force of its outer walls. That way drinking out of the cup would be no different than on Earth. – SF. Jul 17 '13 at 9:09
up vote 13 down vote accepted

There's a bunch of videos online with a demo of drinking.

Specifically for coffee you can watch that here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk7LcugO3zg

According to this post, he uses a special cup that has a specific shape and surface tension.

During STS-126 last November, mission specialist Don Pettit devised a cup that took advantage of its special shape and surface tension such that it was perfect for use in microgravity.

This special object is actually just a report cover.

As Pettit describes in the video, the plastic for the cup was taken from the cover of a flight data file, so I stopped by an office supply store and purchased a report cover. In orbit, Kapton polymide tape was used to hold the cup together. Despite my best effort, I was unable to find a local store that stocks Kapton, so another 3M product, Scotch tape was substituted (if I ever come across a few strips of Kapton, I will use it to cover the clear tape).

oddly enough there was an article written yesterday (July 15th, 2013) on this exact question, pointing out the same information and same video.

http://www.ibtimes.com/nasa-figures-out-how-drink-coffee-space-zero-gravity-coffee-cup-video-1345635

Historically cups have not been used. For spaceflight, liquids have been stored in sealed bag-like containers and then drunk through a tube. These are somewhat similar to how many children's drinks are packaged and stored. This document shows some pictures of these sorts of containers and some food containers.

As another answer has said, there have been demonstrations of drinking containers that take advantage of certain physical properties which allow a liquid to stay inside an open container.

There is also video of an astronaut letting water loose inside his cabin and then taking it into his mouth by moving his head into a position which allows that. This was part of an educational video in which astronauts were showing how liquid behaves in a low gravity environment.

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