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Italian astronauts: Roberto Vittori


Personal data
Born on 15 October 1964 in Viterbo, Italy. Married to the former Valeria Nardi of Citta' di Castello, Italy. They have three children. Enjoys soccer, running, swimming and reading.

Graduated from the Italian Air Force Academy in 1989 with a degree in Political Science. Completed basic training with the U.S. Air Force at Reese Air Force Base in Texas, US, in 1990. Graduated from the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School in 1995. Completed the Italian Air Force's Accident Prevention course (Guidonia A.F.B., Italy) and Accident Investigation course (Kirtland A.F.B., New Mexico, US) between 1996 and 1997.Graduated from the NATO Defense College Senior Course 108 in 2006. Completed a master's degree in physics in December 2007.

Special honours
Academic award at the Undergraduate Pilot Training, Reese Air Force Base, Texas. Honour student at the Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland. Honour student at the United States Flight Safety School, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. Italian Air Force Long Service Medal (1997). Gold Medal to the Aeronautical Value awarded by the President of the Italian Republic (2002). Special recognition as 'Commendatore della Repubblica' awarded by the President of the Italian Republic (2005).

Following graduation from undergraduate pilot training in 1990, Roberto Vittori flew Tornado GR1 aircraft with the 155th Squadron, 50th Wing, Piacenza, Italy from 1991 to 1994. During that time, he qualified for day/night air-to-air refuelling as well as a formation leader.

In 1995, he completed the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School training. He then served at the Italian Test Centre as project pilot for the development of the new European aircraft, the EuroFighter EF2000, until 1998. From 1996 to 1998, he was the national representative in the Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) research and development programme.

In 1997, he attended the U.S. Air Force Flight Safety School and from 1997 to 1998, he was wing Flight Safety Officer at the Italian Test Centre. He was also a teacher of aerodynamics for the Italian Air Force's Accident Investigation Course.

Roberto Vittori is a colonel in the Italian Air Force. He has logged nearly 2000 hours in over 40 different aircraft, including F-104, Tornado GR1, F-18, AMX, M-2000, G-222 and P-180.

In July 1998, he was selected as an astronaut by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), in cooperation with ESA and, one month later, he joined the European Astronaut Corps, whose homebase is ESA's European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

In August 1998, he was relocated to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and entered the 1998 Astronaut class for participation in a training programme that qualifies astronauts for future assignment on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. Roberto Vittori completed his mission specialist training and also performed technical duties in the Space Shuttle Operations Systems Branch, Robotics, Future Vehicle and ISS Branch.

In August 2001 he took up training as board engineer at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC) in Star City near Moscow for preparations for this first spaceflight in spring 2002.

In August 2002, Roberto Vittori was relocated to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he supported the New Generation Space Vehicles Branch.

After the tragic accident of the Space Shuttle Columbia, he served in the Tiger Teams at the Johnson Space Center for the investigation.

In October 2004, Roberto Vittori took up training again at Star City for his second mission to the International Space Station.

Spaceflight experience
From 25 April-5 May 2002, Roberto Vittori participated in a taxi-flight to the International Space Station, under an agreement between the Russian Space Agency Rosaviakosmos, the Italian Space Agency ASI and ESA. One main goal of this mission was the successful delivery of a new 'lifeboat' to the Station for use by the resident crew in the event of an emergency.

His second mission to the International Space Station, the Italian Soyuz mission 'Eneide' took place from 15-25 April 2005. As flight engineer on both ascent and return, Vittori had an active role in piloting and docking the spacecraft. On board the ISS, Vittori performed an intensive experimental programme.

Roberto’s third mission, on Shuttle STS-134, was an assembly mission to the International Space Station from 16 May to 1 June 2011. His DAMA mission was provided by ASI in agreement with NASA. The Shuttle delivered the Express Logistics Carrier, but the main task was to install the AMS-02 cosmic-ray detector to examine dark matter and the origin of the Universe. Roberto grappled the six-tonne AMS-02 with the Space Shuttle’s robotic arm and moved it to the Station for installation. This was the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour.  

Roberto is currently serving as Space Attaché at the Embassy of Italy and he is also the head of the ASI Office in Washington DC.