NASA Space Cups let astronauts drink liquids without a straw

The days of astronauts having to drink to liquids from a vacuum-sealed pouch with a straw may soon be over. NASA and engineering firm IRPI have teamed up for a new study involving experimental "Space Cups" that allow astronauts in microgravity to drink from a glass as they would on Earth. The Space Cups are currently aboard the International Space Station for the Capillary Beverage Experiment, and while they may not be as fancy as the concept space glass from whiskey distillery Ballantine, they do function similarly.

The first video below shows US astronaut Scott Kelly drink coffee from one of the cups in a continuous sip, with the footage sped up by 20 times. None of the liquid manages to float away, remaining nicely in the cup against the edge Kelly's lips are pressed to.

The Space Cups use surface tension, wetting, and cup geometry to prevent liquid from floating away as a gelatinous blob. This is the same as Ballantine's whiskey glass, although they opted for a channel that starts at the bottom and wraps around the cup to a mouthpiece.

In a second video, we can see two astronauts drinking from the Space Cups while floating freely. Again, surface tension keeps the liquid inside, while one part shows Kelly going to a bit of effort to get the coffee to spill out, only to easily capture it again.

NASA says that the main purpose of the experiment is to study the combination of microgravity and fluid dynamics within the cup, however they do mention how an interesting secondary goal is to see how the "casual consumption of a variety of onboard drinks" can be enjoyed by ISS crew members.