La strada che porta allo spazio passa per il nostro bel Paese.

The first italian woman in space

Samantha Cristoforetti

Personal data

Born in Milan, Italy, on 26 April 1977. Cristoforetti enjoys hiking, scuba diving, caving, swimming, running, weight training and yoga. Other interests include learning foreign languages, reading and ballroom dancing.

Cristoforetti completed her secondary education at the Liceo Scientifico in Trento, Italy, in 1996.

In 2001, she graduated from the Technische Universität Munich, Germany, with a master’s degree in engineering. As part of her studies, she spent four months at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse, France (Erasmus exchange), and ten months at the Mendeleev University of Chemical Technologies in Moscow, Russia, where she conducted research for her master’s thesis.

She also completed a bachelor degree in aeronautical sciences at the University of Naples Federico II, Italy, in 2005.


From 2001, Cristoforetti attended the Italian Air Force Academy in Pozzuoli, Italy, graduating in 2005. During this time she served as class leader and was awarded the Honour Sword for best academic achievement.

From 2005 to 2006, she was based at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, the United States. Upon completion of the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training, she became a fighter pilot and was assigned to the 132nd Squadron, 51st Bomber Wing, based in Istrana, Italy.

In 2007, Cristoforetti was assigned to the 212th Squadron, 61st Flight Training Wing, at Galatina, Italy, where she completed `Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals´ training.

From 2007 to 2008, she was a pilot and Deputy Chief of Wing's Plan and Operations Section for the 51st Bomber Wing in Istrana, Italy.

In 2008, she joined the 101st Squadron, 32nd Bomber Wing, based at Foggia, Italy, where she attended operational conversion training for the AM-X attack fighter.

Cristoforetti is a lieutenant in the Italian Air Force. She has logged more than 500 hours flying time on six types of military aircraft, including SF-260, T-37, T-38, MB-339A, MB-339CD, AM-X. She received her flight’s Best Wingman’s award during T-38 training.

Cristoforetti was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009.