Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has spent more than 6 months on the International Space Station (ISS). She is therefore most likely the only person at FedCon 2018 who has already visited the infinite expanses of space (apart from con visitors, who were abducted by aliens for experimental purposes).
Samantha is a confessed science fiction fan. During her stay on the ISS, the astronaut tweeted a photo showing her in a Starfleet uniform from Star Trek: Voyager, and her ISS mission number, 42, led to a number of references to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Samantha received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Technical University Munich in 2001, including research placements at universities in France and Russia. She joined the Italian Air Force Academy in the same year before graduating in 2005, also having completed a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical sciences in Naples. She completed her jet pilot training in the US before being assigned to fighter and ground attack squadrons in Italy.
She was selected as an astronaut by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2009, the only woman in the new cohort of six astronauts known informally as the Shenanigans.
In 2012, ESA announced that Samantha would take part in a long-duration ISS mission called “Futura” in 2014. She launched with Anton Shkaplerov and Terry Virts on the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft from Baikonur on 23 November 2014 and served as a member of ISS Expeditions 42 and 43. On 7 June 2015, on her 195th mission day, she became the record holder for the longest single space mission for a woman at that time. After 199 days in orbit, Samantha returned to Earth on 11 June 2015.
Samantha Cristoforetti speaks Italian (mother tongue), English, German, French and Russian, and is learning Chinese ahead of possible ESA-China collaborative missions to the Chinese space station. She remains in active training based at the European Astronaut Centre near Cologne.
Look forward to hearing from the likeable astronaut with exciting facts and experiences from her journey to the stars at FedCon – indeed a highlight on a galactic scale.