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Paolo Nespoli, the ISS, Sputnik and Barga

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An interesting short message on today … “What’s 60 years old and has been in space? Me of course and… Sputnik-1, the first satellite ever launched! Happy Birthday #Sputnik60”

On Oct. 4, 1957, Sputnik 1 successfully launched and entered Earth’s orbit. Thus, began the space age. The successful launch shocked the world, giving the former Soviet Union the distinction of putting the first human-made object into space. The word ‘Sputnik’ originally meant ‘fellow traveler,’ but has become synonymous with ‘satellite’ in modern Russian.

The launch of Sputnik 1, Earth’s first artificial satellite, paved the way for Moonwalking astronauts, robotic exploration of the planets, and space tourism.

That message came from the International Space Station high above the globe and was written by the Italian astronaut, Paolo Nespoli.

Back in 2015, he made a flying visit to Barga and called in to the unofficial cultural centre of Barga – Da Aristos, to sample the atmosphere of a bygone age before once again continuing his journey. We said then (article here) that he would be the next Italian to fly on the International Space Station mission in 2017.

Paolo on The ISS:

Nespoli was launched on a Russian Soyuz in May 2017 as part of the is part of Expeditions 52 and 53.

The Milan native – and Inter Milan fan – was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering in 1988 and a Master of Science degree in aeronautics and astronautics in 1989 from the Polytechnic University of New York. He was awarded the Laurea in Ingegneria Meccanica by the Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy in 1990.

A qualified professional engineer, pilot and an advanced diver, Nespoli served in the Italian army between 1977 and 1984 – becoming qualified as master parachutist, parachutist instructor and special forces operator.

Nespoli left the army to complete his studies and work as a design engineer in Florence, where he conducted mechanical analysis and provided support for qualification of the flight units of the electron gun assembly, one of the main components of the Italian space agency’s Tethered Satellite System.

He joined ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne as an astronaut training engineer. In 1995, he was part of the EuroMir project at the Agency’s ESTEC establishment in Noordwijk in the Netherlands, where he was responsible for the team that prepared, integrated and supported the payload and crew support computer used on the Russian space station Mir.



The new mission is part of a barter agreement between NASA and Italy’s ASI space agency involving ESA astronauts.

It will be ASI’s third long-duration flight, following Luca Parmitano’s Volare in 2013 and Samantha Cristoforetti’s Futura in 2015.

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