|NASA astronaut Robert L. Curbeam, Jr. (left) and European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang, both STS-116 mission specialists, participate in the mission's first of three planned sessions of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction resumes on the International Space Station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Samantha Cristoforetti (born April 26, 1977 in Milan, Italy) is the third woman astronaut in the European Space Agency, and the first Italian woman astronaut. She is scheduled to be a part of Expedition 42/43 aboard the International Space Station.
Cristoforetti was born in Milan in 1977. A native of Malè, she spent her childhood in Val di Sole. She studied in Bolzano and Trento and graduated from the Technical University of Munich with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. She studied at the École nationale supérieure de l'aéronautique et de l'espace in Toulouse, France, and at the Mendeleev Russian University of Chemistry and Technology in Moscow, Russia.
She also graduated in Aeronautics Sciences at the Italian Accademia Aeronautica in Pozzuoli, becoming one of the first women to be a lieutenant in the Italian Air Force.
On July 3rd, 2012, the European Space Agency announced that Samantha Cristoforetti is set for a long-duration mission to the ISS in 2014.