On 21 July, from 16 Italian, it is expected that Samantha Cristoforetti take part in an extravehicular activity (so-called Eva) from the Russian segment of the International Space Station, with the cosmonaut and commander, Oleg Artemyev.
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The news spread in the late afternoon yesterday, when NASA published the calendar of its television broadcast, which Thursday 21 precisely provides for an activity outside the ISS. At the time of writing these lines, the tasks assigned to the two astronauts are not known, but NASA has specified that the EVA could last “up to seven hours“. Always do not intervene, it should be said, “program changes”, that of Astro Samantha would be the first space walk of a European, as well as the first of a Westerner with the Russian-made Orlan space suit.
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Just in Star City, the center of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, near Moscow, Cristoforetti had trained last year in the use of the suit, but the international crisis had prevented, until yesterday, from having confirmation about the actual possibility for the Italian astronaut to carry out extravehicular activity.
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Yet, precisely the Eve shared with a cosmonaut could be the further testimony of the relations of continuous and peaceful collaboration on board the orbiting station, also confirmed last week by the NASA administrator, Bill Nelsonwho spoke with his deputy, the former astronaut Pamela Melroy, at the Council of the European Space Agency hosted in the Netherlands: “The collaboration of astronauts in orbit, including Samantha Cristoforetti, with Russian cosmonauts demonstrates exceptional professionalism“Had underlined the number one of NASA,”even that between the ISS control centers, in Houston and Moscow, is not suffering any consequences and this despite the dramatic situation in Ukraine“. A situation, it should be pointed out, with obvious repercussions beyond the atmosphere.
Launched from Cape Canaveral on April 27 on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Freedom”, Cristoforetti is at itsand long-term stay on the orbiting station, an outpost of which only a change of plans prevented her from not being the first European commander (the astronaut is in charge of the non-Russian segment of the ISS).
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After the “Futura” mission of the Italian Space Agency, which between 2014 and 2015 had seen it in orbit for 199 days, today Cristoforetti is engaged in “Minerva”, lasting a total of almost five and a half months. During his stay in orbit, he will take part in 41 experiments, some of which have already begun and of which six are Italian (also from ASI): among others, he will deal with experiments related to human research, biology and biotechnology, development and demonstration of new technologies, physical sciences. “Two experiments in particular caught my attention – he told us just before the launch – one is sui tissues of the nervous system and investigates the effect of oxidative stress and how the administration of a type of nanoparticles can be protective. It would be good to remember that oxidative stress can lead to neurodegenerative diseases”.
The other experiment, called “Ovospace” and also this one by ASI, “focuses on ovarian cell tissues, to observe how weightlessness, microgravity, can modify their function. It is a way to better understand what the mechanisms of operation are. And maybe identify gods target for future medical interventions of improvement of ovarian function”.
No less important is the symbolic role of “Minerva” and Cristoforetti, not surprisingly the first astronaut who also landed on TikTok. “We will focus on what unites us, not on what divides us. I believe that our work is a beacon of hope for understanding between countries ” AstroSamantha had declared a few days before returning to space. The July 21st Eve could prove you right in the most demanding but beautiful way.