First Italian female astronaut ready for spaceflight
Rome: History will be made on Monday with the first ever Italian female astronaut set to go into space for a mission on board the International Space Station (ISS).
Samantha Cristoforetti, a captain in the Italian Air Force, will be a flight engineer for ISS expeditions 42 and 43, until May 2015, Xinhua reported.
She will leave Earth from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the second long duration mission of the Italian Space Agency on board the ISS.
Born in 1977 in Milan, Cristoforetti graduated from the Technische Universitat Munich, Germany, with a master's degree in mechanical engineering with specialisations in aerospace propulsion and lightweight structures.
In 2001, Cristoforetti joined the Italian Air Force Academy in Pozzuoli, Italy.
From 2005 to 2006, she was based at the Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, US.
After completing the Euro-NATO joint jet pilot training, she became a fighter pilot in Istrana, Italy.
Cristoforetti has logged over 500 hours, flying six types of military aircraft.
In 2009, she joined the European Space Agency (ESA) and in 2012, was assigned to an Italian Space Agency mission aboard the ISS.
"I woke up a bit earlier from the planned 5-hour nap and there' s no point in trying to go back to sleep, so here I am, sharing a few departing thoughts," Cristoforetti wrote on her blog Sunday.
"My last time in bed for many months ... The nap has been weird: part of my brain was dreaming, part of it was awake watching myself dream," she said.
"I go to space with all of myself, with everything that I am and I have experienced, and I certainly take with me every person I have met," she wrote.
The International Space Station (ISS) is a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit.
The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory, in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology.
The station has been continuously occupied since the arrival of Expedition 1 Nov 2, 2000. The ISS represents the longest continuous human presence in space.