A few hours after the launch of the Samantha Cristoforetti Minerva mission to the International Space Station, Sky TG24 interviews Luca Parmitano, fellow Italian astronaut and personal companion at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“These days I have a dual role – Luca Parmitano told Sky TG24 – I’m the head of support and my team handles Samantha’s guests, while I personally am Samantha’s direct attendant, I’m with her and her family, partner, mother and two kids, and I’ve spotted them inside the Kennedy Space Center base. In the days before departure and on the day of departure I am with them to respond to any kind of need.”
Samantha Cristoforetti, the first TikToker in space
How does Samantha go through these last few hours before launch and how do you find her, even compared to the rest of the crew?
“Samantha in Edition 2 now is a veteran and even if it is different because we are not in Baikonur but in the States I have seen her very relaxed, ready and well prepared as always, very good at managing the double at the moment. As a professional, as a partner and as a mother.”
What will you or will you tell her about her new mission in Minerva?
“I am always of the opinion that advice should only be given when asked. Samantha does not need any advice, she has been training for two years, she is ready, and she has very clear ideas about her role and what the characteristics of this new assignment are, so the only thing I would say to her would be Great, very great good luck.”
From Gagarin to Moon Landing, Comp in Space. photo date
You and Samantha are part of the famous class of 2009 European Astronauts that started it all. It’s been more than ten years, what do you remember when you met?
“I remember perfectly my first meeting with Samantha for dinner in Cologne, the day before the medical examinations began. Before we were colleagues, we were already in the Air Force, she was a very young pilot and I was a little bit older, but we actually met there for the first time, just to find ourselves Chosen as astronauts. While Samantha wasn’t a mother, she hadn’t yet acquired that wonderful maturity that being a mother gave her. Now I find her very ready, very mature, really a 360-degree complete person.”
During the last press conference, in response to Sky News 24, Samantha emphasized how work must continue aboard the International Space Station because the International Space Station must remain a forward base for peace and cooperation. What is your view given the moment of great international tension we are witnessing?
“I can only participate. A few days ago I was talking with Mark Vande Hee, a NASA astronaut who returned to Earth with two Russian cosmonauts, and obviously I couldn’t help but ask him how it was on board. He answered me privately the same way he did. In public: the politics obviously lie in the background of the work of the space station, but on the plane you work as a crew, in the sense of a family, because after so many days and months that you lived together, one really becomes like brothers and sisters. The work continues and must be a ray of light and hope for Facing the darkness we often observe here on Earth.”
In mid-March in Palermo, on the occasion of your honorary degree in Economics and Management at Lumsa University, I presented the European Astronauts’ Manifesto, a kind of call to responsibility and also to Europe’s independence in space affairs. How did this idea come about and what role did you and Samantha play in this statement?
The idea was born in a collective way, from a conversation between some astronauts and the Director General of the European Space Agency. We astronauts have talked about the fact that the commercial exploitation of space offers opportunities but also risks, and we have expressed our concerns and our vision. The Director asked us to put our ideas in writing, with an official document to present to decision makers, ministers, and representatives of countries involved in discussions about space for Europe. From there, in coordination with the active astronauts of ESA and the European components of ASE, the Association of Space Explorers, we jotted down points we think are essential which I wrote myself in a standardized form. After a few weeks, this document became obsolete due to the facts because we saw that those risks that we expressed in the future are already a reality. For example, the various time shifts of Samantha’s mission to make way for an expedition for paying customers, Axiom 1, which has brought, in a sense, an awareness as far as I’m concerned about how science and technology values and “Exploration, which symbolizes human spaceflight for various agencies, It is not a priority for those who run these missions commercially.”
You’re in Cape Canaveral, in the same places the first astronauts left for the moon. What effect does it have?
“As far as I am concerned, I have always had a very strong connection to where it all began: Baikonur, the platform from which Görg Gagarin departed is in fact the true starting point of the space adventure, which went down in history together with Cape Canaveral throughout the evolution of the space race. Cape Canaveral seems , when you have the opportunity to explore it a little bit, as an open air museum because you can find the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo mission launch pads.Having the chance to set foot and touch these places is exciting because it is really a leap in the history of space exploration.Similarly, it is very exciting to see The near future. Now there’s a lot of interest in the International Space Station, for these flights with new commercial vehicles, but we’ll be back soon to see very large versions of launchers like the SLS, for the Artemis missions that we’re going back to the Moon I think leaving the forefront is a sign. important on how close and essential space is and how much human exploration of space is still a part of our lives too from a narrative point of view.”
Pictures of the last three astronauts entering the space station in March have sparked debate. Some international media have interpreted the yellow and blue of their uniforms as a reminder of the Ukrainian flag. In a context like the one we’re going through, what do you think the role and spirit of an astronaut do?
“There are some premises to be made: a geopolitical situation is a situation between countries. We remember that there is always a huge difference between state and nation, government, domestic politics and the individual. They are very different entities, often separate. Each individual should be able to think for himself in a way Supportive or splinter.As for the three astronauts, we know very well that the spacesuits they wore were made months in advance, and since they all came from the same Bauman University in Moscow that show those colors with their suits, they wanted to honor their place of education..As the NASA astronaut said Mark Vandy is also, they were surprised to discover this controversy on Earth and this should make us believe that their role and their thinking was actually elsewhere, not anticipating geopolitical events on Earth but really oriented. What is their job, work and role in the International Space Station, specifically The role of explorers, operators who work to contribute to the development of science and technology. So we do not have to confuse everything, nor do we have to read events from one point of view. Because this same spirit now exists for our fellow Departing: The three American astronauts plus European and Italian astronaut Samantha will go to work together and collaborate with current astronauts and astronauts as a crew, in an environment that transcends all limits, every limit and every barrier.”
Is there a photo that connects you with Samantha or remembers it in a moment on the eve of this flight?
“If someone asks me what Samantha looks like, the image that immediately comes to mind is not that of an astronaut in a space suit, but that of Samantha with her children in her home, in the most famous and intimate context, where I see her as an incredibly complete nature: as a professional, as a woman , as a mother, as a partner, as a supporter and as someone who needs support and so in this context I picture her when I think of her. I wish a lot of luck – and I assure Wolf Alive – for Samantha in this new assignment which I am sure will be full of successes and surprises and we will be here ready and smiling to welcome She’ll be back in a few months.”