Samantha Cristoforetti was born on 26 April 1977 in Milan and is an Italian European Space Agency astronaut, Italian Air Force pilot and engineer. She holds the records for longest single space flight by a woman (199 days 16 hours) and for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight of a European astronaut. She is also the first Italian woman in space. Samantha Cristoforetti is also known as the first person who brewed an espresso coffee in space.
In 2007, Samantha completed Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals training. From 2007 to 2008, she flew the MB-339 and served in the Plan and Operations Section for the 51st Bomber Wing in Istrana, Italy.
In 2008, she joined the 101st Squadron, 32nd Bomber Wing, based at Foggia, Italy, where she completed operational conversion training for the AM-X ground attack fighter.
Samantha is a Captain in the Italian Air Force. She has logged over 500 hours flying six types of military aircraft: SF-260, T-37, T-38, MB-339A, MB-339CD and AM-X.
She was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009. She joined ESA in September 2009 and completed basic astronaut training in November 2010. In July 2012 she was assigned to an Italian Space Agency ASI mission aboard the International Space Station. She was launched on a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 23 November 2014 on the second long-duration ASI mission and the eighth long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut.
Samantha is the seventh ESA astronaut and the first female ESA astronaut to complete a long-duration mission in space. She set new records for longest single time in space for an ESA astronaut and female astronauts in general. She took over duties from ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst for cargo on ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle Georges Lemaître. Samantha was responsible for packing the versatile spacecraft. She monitored its undocking, which marked the end of an era – Georges Lemaître was the last in a series of five ATV vessels supplied by ESA to service the Station.
Yje Italian astronaut also helped to grab and dock two Dragon ferries with the Station’s robotic arm, providing support for the first in January and taking the lead as prime operator of the 16 m-long arm to grapple Dragon-6 in April.
With two spacewalks conducted during her mission, Samantha played an important role preparing her colleagues for their sortie and supporting them while they were working outside the Station.
For the first time a Station airlock was used for scientific research when Samantha and Terry sampled their exhaled breath under reduced pressure, using nitric oxide as a tool to monitor lung inflammation as well as charting lung health in astronauts.
Samantha’s Expedition saw much research conducted on genetics and biology, keeping ants, fruit flies, plants and worms for international studies on the effects of spaceflight over multiple generations.
Meanwhile, hardware attached to Europe’s Columbus laboratory module continues to monitor the Sun and ocean winds. Another exterior facility is exposing ‘extremophiles’ and organic compounds to space and investigating the origin of life.
Samantha Cristoforetti enjoys hiking, scuba diving, yoga, reading and travelling. Other interests include technology, nutrition and the Chinese language.