Paolo Nespoli: a 60 years old man in space

Paolo Angelo Nespoli was born in Milan on the 6th of April 1957. He grew up in Verano Brianza, a small town near Milan and in 1977 he graduated in “Paolo Frisi” high school in Desio. From 1977 to 1980 he frequented the military skydiving school in Pisa where he got qualified as skydiving sub-officer instructor. Next year he became part of the Italian Special Force as raider skydiver at 9° Reggimento Col Moschin. From 1982 to 1984 was sent in Lebanon with Multinational Force of Peace.

In 1988 he graduated as Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering at the Polytechnic University of New York and a year later he received a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics in the same university. After graduating in Mechanics Engineering in the University of Firenze, in 1991 was employed by the ESA’s Astronauts Center in Cologne, Germany as an astronaut training engineer, he contributed to the preparation and implementation of basic training for the European astronauts and he was responsible for the preparation and management of astronaut proficiency maintenance. He was also responsible for the Astronaut Training Database, a software system used for the preparation and management of astronaut training. In 1995, he was detached from the EUROMIR project at ESA’s ESTEC establishment in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, where he was responsible for the team that prepared, integrated and supported the Payload and Crew Support computer used on the Russian space station Mir. A year later he moved to the USA, in Huston at the Nasa’s Johnson Space Center: he became part of the Spaceflight Training Division that is the Office for the training and integration of astronauts, committed to supporting the personnel of flight and land of the International Space Station. In the summer of 1998 he was chosen as an astronaut by the Italian Space Agency, and shortly thereafter he was integrated into the EAC, thePaolo_Nespoli_during_the_pre-launch_press_conference_node_full_image_2 ESA’s European Astronaut corps. In the same period he was included in the 17th class of NASA astronauts. Obtained the qualification of Mission Specialist for the Space Shuttle (in practice, onboard engineer), in the 2000 he becomes also an operator of the International Space Station, while the following year assumes the role of operator of the mechanical arm of the space shuttle. After completing the advanced course for vehicular activity, in the summer of 2004 he was temporarily assigned to the Gagarin Space Training Center located in the Star city, in Russia: Here he follows the early stages of training necessary to become an engineer on board of the Soyuz, the Russian spaceship. Thus, Paolo Nadeem returns to Houston to participate in advanced training courses, working in the meantime for the astronaut offices of the Italian Space Agency, ESA and NASA. In June 2006 he joined the crew in the Space Shuttle mission STS-120, which aims to build the ISS International Space Station: The mission, called Esperia, toke place between 23rd October and November 7th of the following year (a little later, on November 19th 2007, he was appointed as commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic from the initiative of the president of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano).

Exactly one year later, in November 2008, the Italian Engineer is assigned to Magistra, a long-term mission that will involve training longer than two years between the United States and Russia. Paolo spent more than five months on the ISS, dealing with scientific and technical experiments: he left on December 15th, 2010 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with the Soyuz, returned to Earth only on May 24th, 2011, landing in the steppes of Kazakhstan, after a journey of almost half a year with Dmitry Kondratyev and Catherine Coleman. In July 2015, he was assigned to another space mission: it will be part of the 52/53 expedition on the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz, which will start on the 28th of July 2017 and he will remain in orbit for about five months.

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