Space travel has always been about going higher, further, faster. That isn’t just a quote from superhero Captain Marvel, it is a way of life for those who choose to ride a rocket to the stars. Much like Captain Marvel, Italy’s own Samantha Cristoforetti is another woman who has taken those words to heart during her career.
Born in Milan in 1977, her interest in space travel started early. At the age of 18 she was a foreign exchange student and attended Space Camp, in Huntsville Alabama. She was inducted in the Space Camp Hall of Fame in 2014 after being chosen for a mission to the ISS. She began that mission in November of 2014, with two crewmates, American Terry Virts and Russian Anton Shkaplerov
aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
On June 11, 2015 she returned from the ISS, having set the record for the longest time spent in space by a woman during a single mission. In addition it was the longest space mission for any European Space Agency astronaut, surpassing the previous record set by Dutch astronaut André Kuipers.
How long was this historic mission? Well, in space travel the numbers matter, and astronauts are a very specific and exact bunch. Her total time in space was 199 days, 16 hours and 42 minutes, putting her just ahead of American astronaut Sunita Williams who stayed onboard the ISS for 195 days.
Cristoforetti sipped the first cup of freshly brewed coffee ever made in space. While space technology has taken men to the moon, a Rover to Mars and a probe to Pluto, up until May 2015, there had been no brewed coffee available, only freeze dried instant coffee crystals.
In a recent interview with Time Magazine, Cristoforetti was asked how it felt to have set such a historic record. Laughing, she replied, “Well, I think records are more something for media to write about because it’s potentially a piece of news. But of course for me, it really doesn’t make a huge difference having been in space 200 days as opposed to 190, which would not have been the record. The opportunity to stay longer… depended on an accident that we had with a cargo vehicle.”
While setting the record was not the original goal of the mission, like Captain Marvel, Cristoforetti went higher, further and faster, not only breaking a record, but inspiring other girls and women to reach for the stars.
I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.