Gain inspiration from astronaut Samantha

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Inspiration Astronomy

What woman in her right mind would throw in her fighter pilot job?

One who is planning to go into orbit of course!

Young women in Far West NSW looking for an inspirational role model for future education and career ideas can look to this astronaut who is now on the International Space Station – Samantha Cristoforetti.

Captain Cristoforetti left the Italian air force in 2009 to become one of the lucky few to join a research mission on the ISS. She was one of six persons selected from 8,000 applicants to join the European Space Agency astronaut corps. Five years later and skilled up with new capabilities, Samantha is now orbiting Earth.

What does it take to train for the ISS? Apart from having a few degrees and several languages, there are many general training requirements. Much more detail is on the ESA website.

However, some ISS-specific lessons are these:

  • learn how to operate a robotic arm – go to Canada
  • learn your way around the sophisticated onboard lab – go to Japan
  • learn how to spacewalk – go to the USA
  • graduate with space-wings – go to Russia

Astronaut Cristoforetti departed Earth on 23 November. Less than six hours later she docked and boarded the ISS. Before docking the ISS took in a quick four orbits of Earth.

We were waving at the ISS from Broken Hill. During Outback Astronomy’s Constellations sky show around that time, the ISS was visible from Broken Hill as it passed overhead. This would have been at about the same time as Samantha boarded.

Anyway, timing is everything in space and it is highly likely Captain Cristoforetti was busy doing important hello and goodbye speeches. As new astronauts board the ISS, half of the former crew return to Earth.

So what is the mission ahead for Captain Cristoforetti? Between now and May, 2015, she will be the prime operator of the automated transfer vehicle which allows supply vehicles to come and go. Plus, she will participate in scientific experiments in the lab and do general ISS housework along with her other five crew members. She is also learning to speak Chinese in her spare time – one more language skill to add to her Italian, German, French, English and Russian abilities!

Learn more about this amazing lady and the ESA Futura mission at http://www.esa.int/ESA. Photo is taken from ESA website.