Luca Parmitano made history this summer when he became the youngest astronaut on a long-term assignment to the 2013 Space Station mission.
In May of 2009, Parmitano was selected as a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, and in 2011 the ASI (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana) nominated him for the 2013 ISS mission. Under a bilateral agreement between the ASI and NASA, Parmitano became the fourth Italian citizen to fly to the Space Station. He was launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan in May of 2013 on a Soyuz TMA spacecraft. Parmitano’s mission, ironically entitled “Volare,” involved conducting physics/ biological research, participating in spacewalks, and docking ESA’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle. After 166 days, he landed safely back on Earth on 11 November 2013.
ESA Director of Human Spaceflight, Simonetta Di Pippo, expressed her enthusiasm about Luca, and the direction his presence at the Space Station will bring to the future of European space exploration, “Luca is a member of the new class of ESA astronauts, and he will be a perfect space ambassador to promote the benefits of human spaceflight on Earth. His assignment brings the certainty that Europeans will be part of a new era of the utilization of the International Space Station, an era with broader exploration ambitions.”