Almost two years ago, on the way home from the final launch of STS 134 Endeavour space shuttle, I was incredibly fortunate to have a run-in with an amazing European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut. On that exciting day, I met and interviewed Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano. After meeting me, Luca agreed to become my mentor, and for the last couple of years, he has stayed in touch with me and offered great advice – I’ve been so lucky to stay connected with him!
Luca originally studied political science before finding his passion in the space program. He once gave me some advice that has stuck with me to this day ‘follow your passions and you will end up where you’re meant to be’. These words have influenced my plans and changed my perspective on how to achieve your goals.
Luca started his journey to being an astronaut in the Italian Airforce, where he completed basic training and Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training. Two years later, he qualified as Electronic Warfare Officer at the ReSTOGE and later completed his Tactical Leadership Program in Belgium. In 2007 he was chosen by the Italian Air Force to become a test pilot, where he has logged more than 2000 hours of flying time and has flown over 40 types of aircraft! He spent two years with the Italian Air Force before being selected as a European Space Agency Astronaut – and now he’s about to experience his first mission!
In 2011, Luca was chosen as a flight engineer for a 2013 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Soyuz TMA-09M of Expedition 36, set to launch on May 28 of this year. This mission, which will last about six months, was made possible through an agreement with Italy’s ASI space agency and NASA, further encouraging international space cooperation. His mission, called “Volare,” means “to fly” in Italian, and symbolizes the search for new frontiers and opportunities for discovery.
This is an incredibly exciting mission that Luca gets to be a part of – make sure you follow his upcoming launch – it’s going to be an amazing expedition! One great way to stay updated: follow Luca on Twitter!