Luca blog

Beautiful world. Credit: ESA/NASA

Letter to my daughters

When I was asked by a prestigious Italian news magazine to write a letter to my daughters – to be published in the first edition of the year – writing about the future, I was not exactly...

Symmetry

Closing the hatch of the Soyuz is like closing the the cover of a just-finished book. The sense of abandonment is surprising, until I realise that a last page is nothing more than an invitation to open...

video

Interview with Luca just after landing

Interview with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, on Monday 11 November, shortly after landing in the Kazakhstan steppe. Luca, together with Russian commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, landed at 02:49 GMT (03:49 CET), in the...

Wind, sand and stars – (with apologies once again...

That is my planet. I gaze lovingly at the surface with its boundless and beautiful colours. How many times have I explored its borders as the dawn immortalises its curves, glowing in an indescribable light-blue that is perfectly outlined by the light of iridescent mesospheric clouds: the colour of infinite patience. Shrouded in silence I look out: I feel our planet’s heart beat as I watch the vital water run along infinite veins across the land, nourished and protected by the clouds that cover Earth’s surface like the cloak of a vestal virgin. Its breathing is calm and eternal like the tides but large as ocean waves. It holds the power of...

Guide to the International Space Station for the occasi...

Pressurised Mating Adaptor (PMA1) From the FGB, moving toward the bow, we pass through a corridor that looks rather strange. The corridor is an asymmetrical truncated cone. Starting from the round hatch, it transforms into a square that is Node-1. This transitional area is called PMA1, and in addition to connecting the two main segments, it is also a convenient place to store things: its walls are covered with the typical white bags we call CTBs that contain equipment on the Station. When you float through the PMA1 it feels as though you are going down because of its asymmetrical shape . Node-1 (Unity) This is the oldest module of the American...

Guide to the International Space Station for the occasi...

Last week I spoke to students from three universities in Italy, Germany and Israel. I liked their questions a lot because they allowed me to be playful in my answers, I tried to get them to leave with more questions that their young minds can investigate further. One deceptively simple question came from a girl who asked me: “What impresses you most about the Space Station?”. She was not referring to my mission, nor to my view of Earth that over the past 150 or so days has reshaped my mind’s geography but she asked about the Station itself. I had never asked myself this question because an orbiting space...

A day on the International Space Station

A day on the International Space Station The first of two alarms sounds at 5:50 GMT, like every morning, Mondays to Fridays. It shakes me from dreams that I never remember. Still sleepy I stretch my arms, which were folded through the night, and automatically I poke them through the two slots on either side of the sleeping bag  to allow the arms out. In space, every move starts a chain reaction so my sleeping bag is tied with four thin cords to the wall of the crew quarters or else it would float away. My head often gently touches the ‘ceiling’ causing my body to bounce slowly in the opposite direction...

Luca Parmitano talks to finalists of the Volare Space R...

From 400 km above the surface of Earth, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano talked with high-school students during the finals of the Volare Space Robotics Challenge. Seven teams entered remote-controlled robots that battled on a mock-up of the International Space Station. Their mission: to unload cargo from ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle as quickly as possible while avoiding objects. Students at ‘ground control’ gave instructions wirelessly from the control centre next door. Multipliers added more strategy to the competition. The two-day event was the culmination of lots of hard work from the seven teams of high-school students. The highlight for many students was visiting ESA’s laboratories and of course a live call with ESA...

Every picture tells a story

Some may remember the ending of a famous song from many years ago that repeated insistently that every picture tells a story. I am always impressed and excited looking at photos of nature, science and aviation and the distinct story that some images tell. I realised recently though that my interpretation of every photograph was incorrect. I have never been a good photographer: I do not have Karen’s artistic eye that captures details of extraordinary beauty with the same quiet confidence with which she sews beautiful patterns from improvised materials. Nor do I have Fyodor’s technical knowledge whose fingers, now on their fourth space flight, handle the complex professional cameras with confidence,...

Cygnus

It is dark outside, an impenetrable blackness surrounds us, so we are probably flying over an ocean as. I look around the Cupola and realise that the lights around me and the surreal blue twilight outside would probably drown-out the faint lights of the big cities anyway. Cygnus is flying below us, invisible in the darkness that surrounds it, but Karen and I will try to catch a glimpse of the spacecraft anyway: I know that dawn is not far off, and I have been waiting a week to see the supply ship. I might have lost my eagle-eyes that I developed as a pilot, when I was trained to recognise aircraft from...