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Verified name
Samantha Cristoforetti
Works at European Space Agency
Attended Technical University of Munich
Lives in Cologne, Germany


L-220: Logbook

Last manual docking training sessions these days before the upcoming exam. With my instructor, Sasha, we've been focusing on the most tricky scenarios to make sure I'm ready. So, what makes a scenario more difficult than others?

The type of failure, for example: a "simple"  Kurs malfuction, meaning that the Soyuz can't orient itself to Station any more, or rather a full computer failure? With a functioning computer we can turn on a function that compensates for the rotation of the ISS. When the Station is in its standard attitude with the stack of pressurized modules oriented along the velocity vector, it rotates about 4 degrees per minute as it tracks along the orbit. With the compensation function turned on, the computer automatically fires the thrusters to match that rotation, so that to us the ISS looks as though it was inertially stabilized. 

If the computer fails, however, we need to constantly correct to keep the target aligned as we approach. The Service Module and MRM1 docking ports are especially tricky, because the targets are oriented in such a way that rotation occurs in two channels.

Night approaches are also a little bit more difficult. If we're about to enter eclipse, we station-keep at a distance of about 70 meters and turn on the Soyuz light. At that point we also have to remove a screen we have on our periscope view during illumination, that protects us from being blinded by excessive light. Once that screen is removed, more light comes through and we're able to see ISS with the rather faint illumination from our Soyuz light, but it's a bit more uncomfortable to fly the approach. For one thing, without the extra screen you need to have your eyes perfectly aligned at the right distance to see the image: if you move your head a bit, you immediately loose it. Also, as you come in closer for final approach and docking, the light does become somewhat dazing again. 

So these are the scenarios Sasha and I have been focusing on. You can see us in the picture together before the sim today. Sasha wants to become a cosmonaut (she'd be a second generation). If you ask me, I'd bet my money that she will make it.

If you celebrate Easter this weekend, happy Easter!

#SamLogbook  #Futura

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+Jacek Rużyczka dirty scummy fuckface
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Very interesting read by +European Space Agency, ESA on 3D printing.
Ten ways 3D printing could change space - now and in the future!

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Penso che si diffonderanno sempre più e tra qualche anno saranno accessibili a tutti, perchè, suppongo, adesso dovrebbero costare parecchio!
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L-224: Logbook

When you prepare for a flight on the Soyuz, you first learn about all the on-board systems one by one: you spend a lot of time in the classroom learning the theory and occasionally you get some time in the simulator, specifically dedicated to the one system you're studying. Once you've passed the exams on all the systems, you graduate to the complex simulator sessions that I've written about multiple times and in which you integrate all your knowledge of the separate systems into the actual flight operations.

Today Anton and I exceptionally reverted back to a single-topic practical training session, learning about new procedures to be applied in case of a computer failure just after undocking.

See, our Soyuz will be docked to the MRM-1 module, just like one you see in this beautiful image by the Expedition 38 crew. Like the photo shows, in the standard ISS attitude the MRM-1 points nadir, towards Earth. Typically, when a vehicle undocks the Station it rotated 90° so that the docking port faces aft - that makes if easier from an orbital mechanics point of view, because the simple impulse given by the spring-loaded pushers in the aft direction is enough to guarantee that there will be no collision, even if the Soyuz was unable to perform the separation burns. 

However, it would be really nice to be able to leave the Station in its nominal attitude: it takes fuel to rotate it and the mechanical loads can cause fatigue on the structure, which affects the Station's lifetime. 

If the docking port is nadir, though, proper separation burns must be performed to ensure safety. That's why we now have new procedures in development that allow the crew to give the burns manually, should the computer fail before completing them. 

Was fun to try something new!

Photo: ISS Expedition 38

#SamLogbook  #Futura

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I'd be very careful on that amazing Russian Soyuz space center as,  it is probably littered with NSA Bugs.
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L-228: Logbook

A case of low pressure today!

I went to the facilities of the company Svesda (Звезда), which manufactures our Sokol pressure suits and our seat liners.  As you might remember, my personal custom-made Sokol suit, sequential number 422, has been ready for a while. Last February I wore it for two hours with a 0,4 atm of overpressure to make sure it fit properly in an inflated state. If you missed it, that story is in Logbook L-280:

Today I tested the nominal functions of my Sokol in the vacuum chamber, where I spent a couple of hours lying in a Soyuz-type seat and in my custom-fit seat liner. First we leak-checked the suit, just like we'll do on the launch pad before the start: I manually closed the blue regulator valve and verified that the nominal overpressure was reached within a specified time limit. Then I reopened the regulator and put it back to the nominal setting of 0,4: should the pressure around me drops below 0,4 atm (and obviously that's the plan of the day), the regulator maintains the internal pressure constant at that value.

After a successful leak check, the chamber door was closed and we started the exercise. First the pressure was lowered to 5 km. It might be confusing to use km as a unit when we're actually talking about pressure, but it's pretty typical in a hypobaric chamber. The pressure is referred to the standard Earth atmosphere: when we say that we are 5 km, we mean that the pressure in the chamber is equivalent to what you would have on Earth at 5 km altitude (which is about half of the pressure at sea level).

At 5 km we stopped momentarily, the ventilation was interrupted and the supply of pure oxygen was turned on instead. That's a much smaller flow - just like it would be in the Soyuz - and from this point on it started to get a bit warmer inside the suit, as we resumed our "climb" to higher altitudes and lower pressures. At 7km I felt the suit starting to inflate and the needle of the gauge showing the suit's overpressure starting to move from the zero position: the regulator had kicked in, preventing the internal pressure from dropping below 0,4 atm.

Eventually we arrived at 30 km, where the pressure is about 1/100 of the sea level value - for all practical purposes today: vacuum. At that point the suit, still at constant internal pressure, was quite inflated and very rigid. Would be quite a challenge to operate in this state, but hey... I'm certainly not complaining. On a really bad day, it might save my life - just like it protected me from vacuum today!

Photo: Yuri P. Kargapolov

#SamLogbook   #Futura

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your photographs are awesome!
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Great time in Japan!
ESA astronauts +Alexander Gerst and +Samantha Cristoforetti were in Japan recently as part of their ISS training in preparation for their #Bluedot   and #Futura missions later this year!
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+Anupam manav how much weed ?
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L-222: Logbook

Anton and I both passed our manual reentry exam in the centrifuge today and are now officially qualified to fly the Soyuz reentry manually as backup crew of Expedition 40, launching in May.

In fact, this is the first of a series of qualification exams we'll have to pass between now and early May. So, first one done!

I did get one profile with a pretty high overshoot, in which I had to "fly the centrifuge" up to 5Gs. I had flown an 8G-run before, but it is indeed a bit different when you're trying to fly your trajectory and do your reporting to the ground.

Was fun! I'll do it again in a few months as prime crew.

#SamLogbook  #Futura

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G Maya
+Samantha Cristoforetti Thank you. Be safe coming back home!
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L-223: Logbook

Today I took a ride on the impressive 18-meter-arm Star City centrifuge.

As a preparation for the upcoming manual reentry exam, I had a dry-run today in which we went through a typical exam session: three reentry scenarios with the running centrifuge with two static scenarios to rest in between.

I've talked a little bit here about how manual reentry works:

The goal is to land within 10 km from the nominal touchdown point - the one that the computer-controlled reentry would fly us to, if it worked. But it's also important to keep the Gs under control. Especially if we're trying to compensate an overshoot in the time we made contact with the atmosphere (i.e. we made contact later than planned), the temptation is to give inputs that will lead to huge G-loads in an attempt to correct back. In an exam setting that will affect the score, but in real life, as well as in the centrifuge, it also affects one's level of discomfort and pain. Let's say it's a self-punishing mistake! 

Under heavy G-loads it is quite difficult to move at all. Luckily, to fly the reentry we only need to press two buttons, the ones under my thumbs in the picture. Those inputs change the roll angle of the descent module in discrete increments of 15°, roll being the rotation around the axis of symmetry. It's not very intuitive, but the roll affects the lift, so that we can control how steep or shallow we want to fly. (For those we want to try to figure it out, here's a hint: the center of mass of the vehicle is displaced with respect to the axis of symmetry).

If you want to know more about riding the centrifuge, here's an older blog post about it:

#SamLogbook  #Futura

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+C A Vulliamy Maybe, but that line of reasoning wouldn't go down well with the examination comittee.
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L-226: Logbook

First of all, happy Cosmonautics Day! I can't imagine a more suitable place to be in today than here in Star City, where it all started. Well, I guess next year will be even better, as I will be on ISS!

But there's still a lot of training to be completed before that and the coming weeks promise to be an exciting time. This is for me the "back-up trip" to Russia: Reid, Alex and Maksim will launch on May 28th and Terry, Anton and I will be their shadows until then. Just like them we'll take the qualification exams, we'll participate in all the pre-launch ceremonies and traditions and we'll fly to Baikonour for a two-week quarantine time. And then we'll watch them blast off to space! 

So this past week I've resumed my Soyuz "routine". I had several manual flying sims (rendez-vous & docking as well as descent), while yesterday Anton and I were back together in the Soyuz simulator.

First we practiced the transition from the nominal quick profile (launch-to-docking in six hours) to the two-day profile. If you have followed the last Soyuz launch, you know that this is a very real possibility: Soyuz 38S had a minor issue with one of the burns and they had to interrupt the nominal profile to eventually dock two days later. 

In our sim, however, after the transition we also got a leak in the pressurization lines of the propellant tanks: basically we were loosing pressure in the helium tanks that pressurize our fuel and our oxidizer, so that they flow to the combustion chamber when the appropriate valves are opened. No pressure, no engine firing! So we had to immediately initiate an emergency descent, before the pressure became too low. 

A nice refresher sim, as we wait for Terry to join us next time. I attach a picture of Anton and myself that Terry took a while back... with some artistic liberty.

#SamLogbook  #Futura

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Hi Sam. I really enjoy your updates. Those of us with a deep interest in manned spaceflight can follow quite a few astronauts and cosmonauts at first hand nowadays through social media, but I find your texts among the most readable and interesting. I wish you the very best over the next few weeks during the back-up phase. Hopefully it will be a great rehearsal for the real thing later this year! Looking forward to further bulletins over the coming weeks and months.
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L-233: Logbook

Yesterday I took a very early flight from Cologne to Munich for a one-day visit at the Columbus Control Centre, short: COL-CC.

COL-CC is responsible for planning and real-time ground control of all operations in the European laboratory Columbus on the International Space Station, both concerning the systems and the science (payloads). 

I had a short brief by the increment leads of all the teams, who introduced their teams and provided an overview of the major activities foreseen during my time onboard, as well as any issues they are currently tracking. Of course, the picture is still a bit blurred and subject to change: we're still 7 months from Increment 42 and some activities depend on the not-yet-finalized launch manifest of the cargo vehicles, bringing for example the equipment for new science experiments. 

Whatever the details will turn out to be, it's clear that there's a challenging year ahead for Columbus, with a lot of new, complex experiment hardware to be launched, assembled and commissioned by my fellow Shenanigan Alex, first, and then by myself. But the COL-CC team is committed to make it all happen and I certainly will do my best to do my part right!

One of the key figures behind a mission to ISS is the Mission Director, the person who knows everything and coordinates the efforts of all the teams to make sure that things go smoothly and on schedule. It's really a small world: my Mission Director Alex is an aerospace engineering graduate of the Technical University of Munich. Just like me, just one year apart!

Another key figure is the Increment Operations Lead, who is the lead flight director (COL-Flight) for the increment. In the picture you can see me with Simon (right) and Cesare in the Control Room. Simon will be responsible for the first part of my mision, Inc 42, and Cesare will take over for Inc 43.

There was also some time for little traditions, like putting a mission sticker at the entrance of the control room and signing it. 

By the way, COL-CC also has a blog: especially exciting with the upcoming mission of my fellow shenanigan Alex!

#SamLogbook   #Futura

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+Samantha Cristoforetti nice to know about your learnings at COL-CC
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L-235: Logbook

Yesterday I had a day of outreach activities, especially dedicated to media interviews. The best part was talking remotely to a few hundred kids at the final Mission X Italian event in Rome. In the past weeks they have learned to eat healthy and train like an astronaut. I hope they will keep up those good habits!

Today was a day of medical activities, including several exams required for my medical certification.

That included a treadmill stress test in which the speed is increased progressively to maximum exertion, while the cardiovascular function is monitored. During this test we also measure VO2max, or the maximum oxygen uptake, a indicator of aerobic fitness. Here in Cologne we measure VO2max on the treadmill. In Houston I have additional sessions to measure it on the bike, so that it directly correlates to what we measure on orbit during the monthly PFE sessions (Periodic Fitness Assessment).

In the picture you can see former ISS crewmember Thomas Reiter performing a PFE on the CEVIS cycloergometer. To measure oxygen uptake we use the portable Pulmonary Function System - I learned a few days ago how to set up all the connections and hoses:

Finally, today I also had a briefing with my flight surgeon, Brigitte. We covered a number of topics, including for example the Private Medical Conferences (PMC) between surgeon and crewmember. PMCs are scheduled for 15 min every weekend and are an opportunity to discuss any medical issue on a privatized channel. Or, if everything is good, they are a good time for a chat with a friend! 

#SamLogbook  #Futura

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pull the socks down tho mate !!!
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Astronaut at the European Space Agency
Italian Air Force Officer
Bragging rights
Somehow jet lag hasn't killed me yet.
  • Technical University of Munich
    Aerospace Engineering, 1996 - 2001
  • Italian Air Force Academy
    Aeronautical Science, 2001 - 2005
Contact Information
ESA/EAC Linder Hoehe 51147 Cologne Germany
  • European Space Agency
    Astronaut, present
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Cologne, Germany
Verona, Italy - Houston, USA - Trento, Italy - Bolzano, Italy - St. Paul, USA - Munich, Germany - Toulouse, France - Moscow, Russia - Napoli, Italy - Wichita Falls, USA - Treviso, Italy