First Italian woman astronaut to be launched into space in 2014

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ROME: An Italian woman astronaut has been assigned for the first time for a long-duration mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Xinhua News quoted local media reports on Tuesday.

In 2014, the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will be launched into space on a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) announced in Rome.

Cristoforetti, 35, a captain in the Italian Air Force, is now trained on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, Station systems, robotics and spacewalks.

“The past three years as a European astronaut have been an amazing time of personal and professional growth,” she was quoted as saying by ANSA news agency after receiving the news of her assignment.

“I am now excited to continue this journey with the objective of serving Italy and Europe as a crewmember of the International Space Station,” she added.

“As privileged temporary inhabitants of humanity’s outpost in space, we will make every effort to share the mission, and virtually take along all those who want to join our journey,” said the astronaut, who enjoys hiking, scuba diving and doing yoga when not in training program.

Cristoforetti will work on the Station for six to seven months as part of the six-astronaut international crew.