Press Release

Italy’s cosmonaut prepares

By SpaceRef Editor
February 7, 2002
Filed under , ,

April’s scheduled Soyuz launch – a ‘taxi flight’ to the
International Space Station – will carry with it a European
astronaut on his maiden voyage into orbit. For Italian Roberto
Vittori, the launch will mark a literal high point in his career
so far. And although has never been in space before, he will be
bringing a wealth of flying experience to the mission.

Roberto was born in Viterbo in 1964, which makes him the youngest of ESA’s 16 astronauts. Flying has been his life: he graduated from Italy’s Aeronautics Academy in 1989 and went on to a career in the Italian Air Force where he flew combat-ready Tornado GR-1 strike aircraft. In 1992 he was promoted Squadron Commander. His notable flying skills led him to test pilot training – and that was when the ambition to become an astronaut first struck him.

“It was in the United States. I spent a year at the Navy Test
Pilot School at Patuxent River near Washington; it’s where some of NASA’s first astronauts were trained – men like Neil Armstrong and John Young. So there was a strong NASA connection, and we actually took a trip to NASA during our course. That’s when I thought: I’d like to do this.”

SpaceRef staff editor.