Samantha Cristoforetti worked in the Italian Air Force as an engineer and pilot before becoming a full-fledged astronaut for the European Space Agency. She was known for her numerous breakthroughs, including being the first Italian woman to reach space and being a record holder for the longest uninterrupted flight and longest single space flight. She was also commended for her achievement of being the first person to brew coffee in space.
Five Facts About Samantha Cristoforetti
She is a record holder for the longest spaceflight as a European astronaut.
A record holder for women’s longest single space flight until June 2017.
She was the first Italian woman to fly to space.
She used to be an engineer and pilot for the Italian Air Force.
She is the first person to brew espresso in space.
Inspirational Quotes from Samantha Cristoforetti
“When you discover new things every minute and your mind is absorbing so many experiences, it feels like time expands.”
“The sky is not the limit.”
Samantha Cristoforetti Biography
Early Life and Education
Born on April 26, 1977, in Milan, Italy, Samantha Cristoforetti grew up in Trentino, Italy. Ever since she was a child, she was an avid reader who had a limitless passion for humanities, technology, and the sciences.
She was widely described as a bright and active woman who enjoyed sports like scuba diving and hiking. She was also very fond of learning new languages, which made her fluent in English, Russian, French, German, and Italian. Currently, she is studying Chinese.
When Cristoforetti turned 18, she was accepted into the AFS exchange program in the US where she attended the Space Camp and in 1996 completed her secondary education at Liceo Scientifico located in Trentino, Italy. She then took a master’s degree in mechanical engineering specializing in lightweight structures and aerospace propulsions and graduated in 2001.
For four months, she spent her time on an experimental project on aerodynamics in Toulouse, France, and was able to write her thesis on another 10-month stay at the Mendeleev University of Chemical Technologies in solid rock propellants in Moscow, Russia. She eventually completed her bachelor’s degree in aeronautical sciences in 2005 at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy. She trained at the Italian Air Force Academy.
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Life Before She Became an Astronaut
Before she made her name as an astronaut, Cristoforetti was a part of the Italian Air Force in 2001, and for four years, she served as an officer candidate and class leader. Upon graduating in 2005, she took part in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program in the United States and obtained her fighter pilot jet by 2006. As soon as she returned to Italy, she was appointed to be the pilot for the AM-X ground attack fighter during the 51st Bomber Wing.
Career as an Astronaut
In May 2009, Cristoforetti became an ESA astronaut and officially joined the ESA in September that same year, and by November 2010, she completed her fundamental astronaut training program. She was then appointed as a reserve astronaut, allowing her to gain both robotics and EVA qualifications and a flight engineer certification for Soyuz’s Russian spacecraft. She then became part of the Expedition 42/43 of the International Space Station.
Cristoforetti spent 200 days in space after being launched on November 23, 2014, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. She was able to complete the second long-duration flight of the Italian Space Agency. After this, she was assigned technical and management duties in the European Astronaut Centre and spent years as head of the Spaceship EAC Initiative. Aside from that, she also spent two years in service for ESA’s Gateway project aiming to put up a staging post around the moon.
She was also involved in sea survival exercises in the Yellow Sea in 2017 with Matthias Maurer, another ESA astronaut. This was the first-ever joint training between the Chinese and non-Chinese astronauts held in China. In 2019 became commander for the 23rd Extreme Environment Mission Operations of NASA, which was a 10-day stay in the Aquarius, the only underwater research station.
Because of her excellence, Cristoforetti received a lot of special honors aside from being a record holder. In July 2015, she was awarded with the Knight Grand Cross by the Italian President and received honorary degrees from different universities, including Politecnico di Torino, University of Pavia, and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Cristoforetti is also currently an ambassador for UNICEF and gives voluntary contributions to the organization from the sales of her memoir entitled the ‘Diary of an Apprentice Astronaut.’
Apart from work, she happily lives with her husband and two kids near the ESA Astronaut Center in Germany. As of the moment, she is training for a mission to the International Space Station which will take place in 2022.
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