Samantha Cristoforetti, first European female astronaut to perform a spacewalk

Italian ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti preparing for her first spacewalk. / this

Science | Astronomy

He has completed the feat alongside his Russian partner Oleg Artemyev

Elena Martin Lopez

The Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, of the European Space Agency (ESA), has become this Thursday the first European woman to carry out a spacewalk. She has done it together with her partner Oleg Artemyev, from the Russian agency Roscosmos. The excursion, which has been the sixth this 2022 and the number 251 of the spacewalks destined to support the assembly, maintenance and updates of the
International Space Station (ISS), lasted seven hours and five minutes.

Artemyev and Cristoforetti have completed almost all the tasks planned for their walk through space. These include the deployment of 10 nanosatellites designed to collect radioelectronics data during the spacewalk and the installation of platforms and hardware near the Nauka-mounted robotic arm, the ISS's newest laboratory. Additionally, they have relocated the arm's external control panel and replaced a protective window on its camera unit. The only planned task that they have not been able to perform has been to extend a Strela telescopic arm between the Zarya and Poisk modules, to be completed in a future spacewalk.

It has been the third spacewalk that has included tasks related to the preparation of the European robotic arm. This 11.3-meter-long is designed to perform multiple tasks automatically or semi-automatically and will be able to be directed from inside or outside the ISS both manually and on a programmed basis. Both astronauts have worn Russian-made Orlan spacesuits. Artemyev with red stripes and Cristoforetti with blue stripes, so that they would be easily distinguishable.

First and only European woman

The walk of the Italian astronaut makes history not only for being the first European woman to carry out a spacewalk, but also because she is the only woman astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA). In order to improve the lack of diversity in its workforce, ESA, which is in the process of choosing new astronauts, aims to recruit women who travel to the
Moon. NASA cosmonauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir were the first women in history to complete the first all-female spacewalk in 2019.

Cristoforetti was born on April 26, 1977 in Milan, Italy. As the ESA collects on its website, she “is an avid reader passionate about science and technology, and equally interested in the humanities. She likes to learn foreign languages ​​and occasionally finds time to walk, dive or practice yoga ». She joined ESA in September 2009.

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti aboard the International Space Station. /

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In July 2015, the Italian president awarded him the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. She is an ambassador for UNICEF, an organization to which she donates the profits from the sales of her memoirs 'Diary of an astronaut apprentice', in which she shares her experience of being selected as an astronaut, how her training was and her sensations when flying her first space mission, which took place in March 2012, as part of the Expedition 42/43 crew to the International Space Station.

In 2019, he served as NASA's NEEMO23 mission commander, during a 10-day stay at the world's only underwater research station, Aquarius. In 2021 she was chosen to take over as commander aboard the ISS for Expedition 68 which will take place this year. “Returning to the International Space Station to represent Europe is an honor in itself. I greatly appreciate my appointment as commander and look forward to using the experience gained in space and on the ground to lead a very capable team in orbit," she said upon receiving the news.

He has also been the first person to use TikTok on the ISS and has amassed more than half a million followers since his first post in May.

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