Roberto Vittori is an ESA astronaut as well as an Italian Air Force Officer and a test pilot for the United States.
Vittorri was born on October 15, 1964 in Viterbo, Lazio, Italy and attended the Italian Air Force Academy, graduating in 1989. While working towards his graduation from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland in 1995, Vittori operated the Tornado GR1 along with the 50th Wing of the 155th Squadron in Piacenza, Italy from 1991 to 1994. During this time, he took the role of a project pilot for the developers of the EF2000, which at the time was a new European Aircraft.
In 1998, Vittori was selected to become a part of the European Astronaut Corps at the Johnson Space Center located in Houston, Texas. After many evaluations and training sessions, NASA cleared him to take on assignments.
On April 25th, 2002 at 6:26:35 UTC, the Soyuz TM-34 “taxi-flight” launched from Gagarin’s Start to the International Space Station (ISS) as a joint effort from the Russian Rosaviakosmos, the Italian Space Agency, the ASI and the ESA. This mission marked the delivery of a ‘lifeboat’ that would allow for any on board crew members to safely exit the ISS in case of an emergency. Vittori returned with the Soyuz TM-33 crew on May 5, 2002 at 3:51:53 UTC about twenty-six kilometers South East of Arkalyk.
His second, and final, “taxi-flight” to the ISS was the Soyuz TMA-6 which launched on April 15, 2005 at 0:46:25 UTC from Gagarin’s Start. This flight led Vittori to be the first European astronaut to visit the ISS twice on two separate occasions. Vittori returned to Earth on April 24, 2005 in the Soyuz TMA-5 capsule.
Vittori’s last mission to date was the STS-134 Endeavour which launched on May 16, 2011 at 8:56:28 EDT from the Kennedy Space Center launch pad 39-A. Vittori served as a mission specialist throughout STS-134. After logging fifteen days, seventeen hours, thrity-eight minutes and fifty-one seconds on board, the Space Shuttle Endeavour returned at 2:35 EDT on June 1, 2011. With the completion of this mission, this left Vittori to be the last non-US astronaut to fly on the shuttle.
Image Caption: Roberto Vittori is an ESA astronaut from Italy. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia