5 Things you didn’t know about astronaut Samantha Cristoforettiht

Samantha Cristoforettiht is a European Space Agency astronaut and has been making headlines because she’s recently returned from a six month mission on the International Space Station, called Futura. We decided to find out a little more about her…

1. She was the first Italian woman in space

Samantha is part of the European Space Agency, but she is originally from Italy – she was born in Milan on 26 April 1977. In July 2012 she became the first Italian women in space after she was assigned to an Italian Space Agency ASI mission aboard the International Space Station.

2. She holds the record for longest single space flight as a woman

When Anton Shkaplerov, Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti landed back on earth earlier this month, they had just completed a record-breaking stint on the International Space Station (ISS). Their return makes the end of the ISS Expedition 43, a mission that orbited the planet and included spectacular spacewalks, a number of important experiments and a brand new record for the longest single space flight ever completed by a female astronaut.

3. She makes cooking and cosmetic tutorials in space and takes lots of photos

While she’s been in space Samantha hasn’t just been spending her time on experiments and other astronaut-related duties, she’s also given us regular ol’ earthlings a brilliant behind-the-scenes look at what life is like in space. She’s created cooking videos, revealed what it’s like to do your nails and hair with zero gravity, took a bunch of amazing photos and starred in a few videos, most notably one in which she read an iconic passage from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy.

4. She was a pilot and engineer in the Italian Air Force

Before joining the ESA, she was a pilot and engineer. Back in 2001 she joined the Italian Air Force Academy in Pozzuoli, Italy, and graduated in 2005. She then spent a year training in Texas before she became a fighter pilot and was assigned to the 132nd Squadron, 51st Bomber Wing, based in Istrana, Italy. In 2008, she joined the 101st Squadron, 32nd Bomber Wing, based at Foggia and then went on to become a Captain in the Italian Air Force. She has since logged more than 500 hours flying six types of military aircraft! She was selected to be an ESA astronaut in May 2009.

5. She can speak five different languages

As an ESA astronaut it really sets Samantha apart that she can speak five different languages. She’s completely fluent in Italian, English, German, French and Russian.

You can follow Samantha on Twitter @AstroSamantha.

[Image via NASA on Flickr]

Becca Caddy