Paolo Nespoli

Last updated
Paolo A. Nespoli
Paolo A. Nespoli 2016.jpg
Born (1957-04-06) 6 April 1957 (age 62)
Milan, Italy
Occupation Italian Army
Space career
ESA Astronaut
Time in space
313 days 2 hours 36 minutes
Selection 1998 ESA Group
Missions STS-120, Soyuz TMA-20 (Expedition 26/27), Soyuz MS-05 (Expedition 52/53)
Mission insignia
Sts-120-patch.svg Soyuz-TMA-20-Mission-Patch.png ISS Expedition 26 Patch.png ISS Expedition 27 Patch.png Soyuz-MS-05-Mission-Patch.png ISS Expedition 52 Patch.svg ISS Expedition 53 Patch.png

Paolo Angelo Nespoli (born 6 April 1957) is an Italian astronaut and engineer of the European Space Agency (ESA). In 2007, he first traveled into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery as a mission specialist of STS-120. In December 2010 he again traveled into space aboard the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft as an Expedition 26/27 flight engineer. Nespoli's third spaceflight was onboard Soyuz MS-05 which launched in July 2017 for Expedition 52/53. He was also the European Space Agency's oldest active astronaut prior to his retirement in 2019.

Astronaut Person who commands, pilots, or serves as a crew member of a spacecraft

An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft. Although generally reserved for professional space travelers, the terms are sometimes applied to anyone who travels into space, including scientists, politicians, journalists, and tourists.

Engineer professional practitioner of engineering and its sub classes

Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are professionals who invent, design, analyze, build, and test machines, systems, structures and materials to fulfill objectives and requirements while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety, and cost. The word engineer is derived from the Latin words ingeniare and ingenium ("cleverness"). The foundational qualifications of an engineer typically include a four-year bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline, or in some jurisdictions, a master's degree in an engineering discipline plus four to six years of peer-reviewed professional practice and passage of engineering board examinations.

Space Shuttle <i>Discovery</i> Space shuttle orbiter

Space Shuttle Discovery is one of the orbiters from NASA's Space Shuttle program and the third of five fully operational orbiters to be built. Its first mission, STS-41-D, flew from August 30 to September 5, 1984. Over 27 years of service it launched and landed 39 times, gathering more spaceflights than any other spacecraft to date. The shuttle has three main components: the orbiter, a central fuel tank, and two rocket boosters. Nearly 25,000 heat resistant tiles cover the orbiter to protect it from high temperatures on re-entry.



Nespoli's hometown is Verano Brianza, in northern Italy. He is married to Alexandra Ryabova and they have one daughter and a son. Nespoli enjoys Scuba diving, piloting aircraft, photography, building electronic equipment and computer software. [2] He supports Serie A team Inter. [3]

Verano Brianza Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Verano Brianza is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Monza and Brianza in the Italian region Lombardy, located about 25 kilometres (16 mi) north of Milan. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 8,968 and an area of 3.5 square kilometres (1.4 sq mi).

Serie A professional association football league in Italy

Serie A, also called Serie A TIM due to sponsorship by TIM, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and the winner is awarded the Coppa Campioni d'Italia. It has been operating for over eighty years since the 1929–30 season. It had been organized by Lega Calcio until 2010, when the Lega Serie A was created for the 2010–11 season.

Inter Milan professional association football club founded in 1908 based in Milan, Italy

Football Club Internazionale Milano, commonly referred to as Internazionale or simply Inter and colloquially known as Inter Milan outside Italy, is an Italian professional football club based in Milan, Lombardy. Inter is the only Italian club to have never been relegated from the top flight.


He received his bachelor's degree in Aerospace engineering in 1988 and his master's degree in 1989 in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Polytechnic University in New York.

He is a professional engineer, a private pilot, an advanced scuba diver and a nitrox diver. Due to his military background, he is also a master parachutist, parachute instructor, jump master, high altitude low opening and Special Forces operator in the 9th Paratroopers Assault Regiment. He joined the Italian Army in 1977.

Nitrox refers to any gas mixture composed of nitrogen and oxygen. This includes atmospheric air, which is approximately 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases, primarily argon. In the usual application, underwater diving, nitrox is normally distinguished from air and handled differently. The most common use of nitrox mixtures containing oxygen in higher proportions than atmospheric air is in scuba diving, where the reduced partial pressure of nitrogen is advantageous in reducing nitrogen uptake in the body's tissues, thereby extending the practicable underwater dive time by reducing the decompression requirement, or reducing the risk of decompression sickness.

9th Paratroopers Assault Regiment regiment

The 9º Reggimento d'Assalto Paracadutisti Col Moschin("Moschin Hill") is a Special Forces unit of the current Italian Army — in part due to its distinguished history, but also due to the arduous training which members must undertake. Training takes no less than two years for long-term members, and five months for short-term volunteers.

Italian Army land warfare branch of Italys military forces

The Italian Army is the land-based component of the Italian Armed Forces of the Italian Republic. The army's history dates back to the unification of Italy in the 1850s and 1860s. The army fought in colonial engagements in China, Libya, Northern Italy against the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I, Abyssinia before World War II and in World War II in Albania, Greece, North Africa, Russia and Italy itself. During the Cold War, the army prepared itself to defend against a Warsaw Pact invasion from the east. Since the end of the Cold War, the army has seen extensive peacekeeping service and combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank and among its aircraft the Mangusta attack helicopter, recently deployed in UN missions. The headquarters of the Army General Staff are located in Rome, at the back of the Presidential Palace. The army is an all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel.


Nespoli has received the following awards:

Order of Merit of the Italian Republic Italian order of knighthood

The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic was founded as the senior order of knighthood by the second President of the Italian Republic, Luigi Einaudi in 1951. The highest ranking honour of the Republic, it is awarded for "merit acquired by the nation" in the fields of literature, the arts, economy, public service, and social, philanthropic and humanitarian activities and for long and conspicuous service in civilian and military careers. The post-nominal letters for the order are OMRI. The order effectively replaced national orders such as the Civil Order of Savoy (1831), the Order of the Crown of Italy (1868), the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (1572) and the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation (1362).

Astronaut career

In July 1998, he was selected as an astronaut for Italian Space Agency (ASI) and in August 1998, Nespoli was assigned by the European Space Agency to train at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Italian Space Agency space agency

The Italian Space Agency is a government agency established in 1988 to fund, regulate and coordinate space exploration activities in Italy. The agency cooperates with numerous national and international entities who are active in aerospace research and technology.

European Space Agency intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space

The European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,200 in 2018 and an annual budget of about €5.72 billion in 2019.

Johnson Space Center NASA field center in Houston, Texas

The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Manned Spacecraft Center, where human spaceflight training, research, and flight control are conducted. It was built and leased to NASA by Joseph L. Smith & Associates, Inc. It was renamed in honor of the late U.S. president and Texas native, Lyndon B. Johnson, by an act of the United States Senate on February 19, 1973.


STS-120 mission specialist Paolo Nespoli in the International Space Station. S120e006445.jpg
STS-120 mission specialist Paolo Nespoli in the International Space Station.

On 23 October 2007 Paolo launched on board STS-120 to the International Space Station; the Space Shuttle mission which delivered the Harmony module (formerly known as Node 2) to the International Space Station. Harmony was built by Thales Alenia Space at its facility in Turin, Italy. He participated as a mission specialist and remained in space for 15 days, 2 hours and 23 minutes. During STS-120, he participated in the Esperia mission for the European Space Agency. [4]

Expedition 26/27 'MagISStra'

Expedition 26/27 flight engineer Paolo Nespoli poses with Robonaut 2. ISS-26 Paolo Nespoli with Robonaut2.jpg
Expedition 26/27 flight engineer Paolo Nespoli poses with Robonaut 2.

Paolo Nespoli served as first flight engineer for Expedition 26/27, Europe's third six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS). [5]

On 15 December 2010 Nespoli flew aboard the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station with the Russian cosmonaut Dmitri Kondratyev and NASA's astronaut Catherine Coleman. The three members of the crew returned to Earth in 24 May 2011. This mission, dubbed ‘MagISStra’, is Paolo Nespoli's second flight in space.

From 15 December 2010 to 24 May 2011, Paolo Nespoli's duties [6] aboard the ISS included participating in the docking operations to receive Europe's second Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-2) "Johannes Kepler", a visiting spacecraft that will deliver essential cargo to the Station. In early January, Nespoli filmed the majority of the footage for the documentary film First Orbit , and as a result is credited as its director of photography.

Nespoli took part in the arrival of the second Japanese HII Transfer Vehicle (HTV-2), an unmanned spacecraft used to resupply the ISS. He was the prime operator for berthing the HTV-2 to the ISS after the free-flying vehicle was captured by NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman. In May 2011, Space Shuttle Endeavour has delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) to the ISS.

During Nespoli's stint with Expedition 27, his mother, Maria, died on 4 May 2011. The crew observed 1 minute of silence the following day around the time of her funeral. [7]

Paolo Nespoli carried out an intensive programme of experiments in the Station, ranging from radiation monitoring to measurements that could improve oil recovery in petroleum reservoirs. The mission scientific programme covered different fields on human research, fluid physics, radiation, biology and technology demonstrations.

Nespoli contributed to the scientific exploitation of Europe's Columbus laboratory. As an astronaut, he carried out several experiments for ESA, NASA and also the Japanese and Canadian space agencies. During the mission, Paolo participated in some educational activities: the educational programme "Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut" which gave children the chance to follow an international initiative built around health, well-being and nutrition. He also participated in a greenhouse activity in space. Nespoli used ESA's novel 3D camera to show images of the ISS.

As Paolo left the ISS on 23 May 2011 in the Soyuz TMA-20 he was able to take the first pictures of a space shuttle docked with the ISS from the perspective of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. [8]

Expedition 52/53 and the VITA mission

Nespoli is part of Expedition 52/53, which started in 2017. He launched on Soyuz MS-05 on July 28, 2017 15:41 UTC. [9] Nespoli's mission to the ISS is called VITA. Vita is an acronym for Vitality, Innovation, Technology and Ability. In addition, in Italian it means life, reflecting the scientific experiments and the technologies needed for life in space. Additional activities will include outreach like Mission-X: Train Like an Astronaut, the European Astro Pi Challenge (where European students run their own code on Raspberry Pi mini computers installed on the ISS). [10]

The mission's logo was developed jointly by ESA, Italian Space Agency, and Nespoli. The overall circle represent the planet Earth, with the main objectives linked by a symbol which is a reformulation of the infinity symbol, called "Third paradise" and designed by Michelangelo Pistoletto. Connected inside are a DNA strand for the scientific experiments, a book for education, outreach and culture, and Earth as a symbol of humanity. The colors represent the Italian flag. [11]

Mission highlights

During the VITA Mission Nespoli completed more than 60 experiments. [12] He also recorded the first content created in space specifically for use on Wikipedia. [1] During his first month in orbit Nespoli acted as cinematographer for National Geographic Channel's One Strange Rock, filming the sequences with astronaut Peggy Whitson which appear in episode 10 of the series [13] .

Nespoli returned to Earth on December 14, 2017. The Soyuz MS-05 landed on 8:38 UTC. [12] The duration of the mission was 138 days, 16 hours, 56 minutes and 37 seconds. [14]

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Expedition 27 mission to the International Space Station

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Soyuz TMA-21

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Expedition 28 expedition to the International Space Station

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Expedition 29 expedition to the International Space Station

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Soyuz TMA-03M

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Expedition 30 expedition to the International Space Station

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Soyuz TMA-16M

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PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from websites or documents ofthe National Aeronautics and Space Administration .

  1. 1 2 Mabbett, Andy. "Close encounters of the Wikipedia kind: Astronaut is first to specifically contribute to Wikipedia from space – Wikimedia Blog". Retrieved 2017-11-30.
  2. NASA (December 2010). "Biographical Data Paolo Angelo Nespoli" . Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  4. "European Space Agency biography". European Space Agency. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  5. "About the MagISStra mission". European Space Agency. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  6. "MagISStra Mission official website". European Space Agency. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  7. "Paolo Nespoli mourns his mother". European Space Agency. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  8. "The International Space Station and the Docked Space Shuttle Endeavour". International Space Station. NASA. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  9. Richardson, Derek (28 July 2017). "ISS crew size increases to 6 with Soyuz MS-05 docking". Spaceflight Insider. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  10. "VITA mission Paolo Nespoli". ESA. July 11, 2017.
  11. "VITA mission Logo". ESA. November 24, 2016.
  12. 1 2 Chris Bergin (December 14, 2017). "Soyuz MS-05 returns crew back to Earth".
  13. "How two astronauts helped shoot Darren Aronofsky's new TV series from space". The Verge. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  14. "Expedition 53".