Occupation: Astronaut, Pilot and Engineer
Year born: 1977
Research Areas: Mechanical Engineering, Aviation, Aeronautics
"I think there is a sense of destiny in this whole idea of space exploration."
Samantha was born in Milan, Italy but grew up in a tiny village in the Alps. She is a fan of science fiction and dreamed of becoming an astronaut from a young age. When she was 18, she did an exchange programme spending a year in the USA and attending Space Camp. She studied Mechanical Engineering at a university in Munich, Germany. During this time, she also studied in France and Russia. Samantha was one of the first women to join the Italian Air Force as a fighter pilot. Whilst training in the air force she graduated with another degree in Aeronautics Science.
In 2009 Samantha was selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as an astronaut. She was one of only six selected from over 8000 applications! She went to space in 2014, spending 200 days on the International Space Station (ISS). This is the longest single mission of any European astronaut. Whilst on the ISS she began Mission X: Train Like An Astronaut. The programme challenged young students to get fit exercising with Samantha.
In 2015 Samantha was given the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Italy’s highest-ranking honour. She has written a book called Diary of an Apprentice Astronaut which talks about her path to space and her time on the ISS.
Samantha likes to learn languages and can speak Italian, English, German, French and Russian. She is studying Chinese. She loves to read, hike, scuba dive and do yoga.