First in Their Field: Samantha Cristoforetti

When you discover new things every minute and your mind is absorbing so many experiences, it feels like time expands.”

Samantha Cristoforetti was born in Milan (Italy) on April 26, 1977, and is an astronaut at European Space Agency (an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space). Cristoforetti rose to fame when she became the first Italian woman in space and the first woman in space to carry out the longest consecutive mission (199 days, 16 hours and 42 minutes). This record was overtaken in 2017 by American Peggy Whitson.

Since she was a child she has been interested in science and technology, but she also loves reading and learning new languages. She can speak 5 languages: Italian, French, English, German and Russian.

She graduated in 2001 from the Technische Universität of Monacouring her studies she also attended l’Ecole Nationale Supèrieure de l’Aèronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse (France) and the University of Chemical Technologies in Moscow (Russia). In the same year, Samantha joined the Air Force Academy as an officer candidate.

She earned her graduate degree in 2005, in Aeronautic Science at the Federico II’s University in Naples. Later she went to the United States, where she specialized at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training in Wichita Falls, Texas.

In May 2009 she was selected as an ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and completed her training in November 2010.

Future mission

“Future” is the name of the mission in which Samantha took part. Her adventure started on November 23, 2014, when she launched into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and ended, after 199 days, on June 11, 2015, with the return to Earth (Kazakhstan) at 3:44 pm Italian time. This mission carry-out experiments on human physiology, biological analysis and 3D printing in weightlessness in order to experiment with the possibility of printing for the space in the absence of gravity without having to depend on items sent from Earth. During those days Samantha, using the potential of new mass media and social networks (especially Facebook and Twitter), had a direct connection with Internet users, in which she communicated and shared the beauty and discoveries of space and her day to day life routine in space.

The picture of Samantha during her mission when she was drinking espresso in space become famous. The theme of food has been central to the communication activity linked to the Future mission. She has repeatedly told the characteristics and ingredients of “Space Food” that she ate during the Mission, paying special attention to health and nutrition.

In July 2015 the Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano awarded Samantha with the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.


Serena Rosignuolo  is a Women’s Museum California Intern from Italy. You can learn more about the Women’s Museum Intern program here

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