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ASI Agenzia Spaziale Italiana

Celebrating twenty years since the mission of the first Italian astronaut and a half century of collaboration with NASA

1 Aug 2012, 14:11 UTC
Celebrating twenty years since the mission of the first Italian astronaut and a half century of collaboration with NASA

Two anniversaries of crucial importance for the history of Italian space accomplishments were celebrated today at the future site of the Italian Space Agency in Tor Vergata: twenty years from the STS 46 mission that took the first Italian astronaut Franco Malerba into space, and fifty years since the initial collaboration between Italy and NASA.The setting for the celebrations was the future ASI headquarters in Tor Vergata, which was inaugurated with the traditional cutting of the ribbon. The inauguration took place in the presence of the ASI President Enrico Saggese, the Minister of Education, University and Research Francesco Profumo, the Deputy Administrator of NASA Lori Garver, ESA's Director of Planning and Control Giuseppe Morsillo and the Italian astronauts, gathered to celebrate the veteran Malerba.Franco Malerba, whose journey in space began aboard the Shuttle Atlantis on July 31, 1992, paved the way for other colleagues who, between this historical date and 2011, represented at the highest level Italy’s scientific and technological excellence: Umberto Guidoni, Maurizio Cheli, Paolo Nespoli and Roberto Vittori. The group of Italian astronauts has recently been enriched by two new experts that are presently busy in preparation for their debut as astronauts: Luca Parmitano, whose mission is planned for mid-2013, and Samantha Cristoforetti, who will be the first Italian woman in space and whose mission is scheduled for late 2014.

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