122. Luca Parmitano (1976)

Born in Paterno’, Parmitano is an engineer and astronaut in the European Astronaut Corps for the European Space Agency (ESA), a team of astronauts working on missions at the International Space Station. Selected as ESA astronaut in May 2009, Parmitano is also a Major and pilot for the Italian Air Force. He is the youngest astronaut to undertake a long-duration mission, at 36 years and eight months old on the launch day of his mission.

Graduated from the Liceo Scientifico Statale “Galileo Galilei” in Catania, Parmitano spent a year (1993) as an exchange student in the United States with AFS Intercultural Programs. In 1999, he completed a bachelor’s degree in political sciences at the University of Naples Federico II, Italy, with a thesis on international law. In 2000, he graduated from the Italian Accademia Aeronautica, in Pozzuoli, Italy.

Parmitano completed basic training with the U.S. Air Force at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program (Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas), and the JCO/CAS course with the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) (Sembach, Germany). In 2003, he qualified as Electronic Warfare Officer at the Reparto Supporto Tecnico Operativo Guerra Elettronica (ReSTOGE) in Pratica di Mare, Italy and completed the Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP) in Florennes, Belgium, in 2005. In 2007 Parmitano was awarded the Medaglia d’Argento al Valore Aeronautico (Silver Decoration for Aeronautical Valour) by the President of the Italian Republic after safely landing his AMX in an emergency due to a bird strike.

In 2009 Parmitano completed a master’s degree in experimental flight test engineering (Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE), Toulouse, France) and was selected as an ESA astronaut. In February 2011, he was assigned as a flight engineer to Expedition 36/37 (a long-duration mission to the International Space Station) which launched aboard Soyuz TMA-09M on 28 May 2013 and arrived at the ISS on May 29. His mission is called Volare (“To fly”). On July 9, 2013, he became the first Italian to take part in a spacewalk as he and Chris Cassidy conducted an EVA out of the ISS’ quest airlock to install power-cables, retrieve material research samples (MISSE-8) and accomplish a number of maintenance tasks. During the EVA, Parmitano also got to ride on the ISS’ Mobile Servicing System for the installation of a couple of radiator grapple bars previously flown up on SpaceX’ CRS-2 mission. The EVA was part of preparations for the new Russian multipurpose module planned to replace the Pirs docking compartment by the end of 2013.

His second EVA was terminated after only 1 hour and 32 minutes. The helmet of his Extravehicular Mobility Unit suit started filling with water posing the danger of drowning and made his return to the airlock even more difficult, as Orbital Sunset had occurred just before he started to return. Engineers found that contamination had clogged one of the suit’s filters, causing water from the suit’s cooling system to back up.

Read More:
1. ESA, http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Astronauts/Luca_Parmitano
2. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luca_Parmitano

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