Italy to send first female astronaut into space

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Samantha Cristoforetti will be the first Italian woman – and only the third woman in Europe – to go to space. Photo: AFP
12:23 CET+01:00
Italy is preparing to send its first female astronaut into space. Speaking ahead of the mission, which is planned for November this year, Samantha Cristoforetti described it as “another great adventure for Italy in space”.

Two months after Italian Luca Parmitano made a safe return back to Earth, Italy is preparing to send another astronaut into space.

Aged 36 and originally from Trentino-Alto Adige, northern Italy, Samantha Cristoforetti will be the first Italian woman – and only the third woman in Europe – to go to space.

She will leave for the International Space Station on November 24th, from a base in Baikonur in Kazakhstan, La Stampa reported.

She will then remain there for six months to carry out various experiments, the paper said.

Speaking at a press conference at Palazzo Chigi last week where the astronaut unveiled the mission’s official logo, Cristoforetti described the flight as “another great adventure for Italy in space”.

“It’s a great privilege to be able to represent Italy and Europe on board the International Space Station,” she said.

Titled “Futura”, the mission takes its name from a song by the popular Italian singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla. Although officially the mission is referred to as “ISS 42/43”.

“It’s a nice name because we’re defeating the future, in the sense that we have to conquer and build. This is what we’re trying to do in the space community,” said Cristoforetti.

Luca Parmitano, who returned back to earth in November 2013, was the youngest astronaut to undertake a long-duration mission at the age of 36 and is the first Italian to complete a spacewalk.

READ MORE: The first Italian to walk in space

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However, NASA was forced to call off the Italian's second spacewalk after a glitch caused the astronauts helmet to fill with water. Unable to see, hear or talk, Parmitano was rushed back into the space station, where he quickly recovered.

Although no spacewalk is currently planned for Cristoforetti, she did not rule out the possibility. 

“You never know,” she told reporters. 

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