Thursday, Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian woman in space, bounced back on earth in her Soyuz capsule. She’d spent nearly 200 days on a single spaceflight, the new record for a female astronaut, and probably 11th overall. That’s amazing. What really sets her apart, though, is how well she shared that experience with those of us stuck on earth.
Cristoforetti had plenty of science to work on for the European Space Agency, but what really made her notable for those nearly 200 days circling the earth was her knack for taking pictures and making little, engaging and informative videos.
So, now that she’s back home, here’s a sampling of some of what she did up there, in case you missed it. She gives a great snapshot of life on the International Space Station in a way that makes it seem human and approachable, she has a real eye for photography, and she seems to be a big Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fan, which I think is a huge plus for any space traveller.
The obligatory but still always interesting space-toilet video. It’s odd how tiny a toilet can be when it doesn’t have to support your weight!
Just because you’re in orbit doesn’t mean you get to be a slob. Also, 0G hair always looks like a cheap Halloween punk rock wig.
Right, they have gym memberships up there.
Orbital meals don’t always have to be sucked out of baggies.
Isn’t that the room where Emperor Palpatine hung out?
And here’s some still pictures from her Flickr feed:
A shot of a logistics module in mid-docking procedure.
This series below I think is amazing: shots into each of the main module’s hatches, with everything else overexposed:
I’m including this next one, which shows Cristoforetti inside the Russian transport after she landed in her Soyuz, because I want you to get a good look at those sheets:
These pictures and her videos manage to both put the ISS and the life on it in a human scale that we can relate to while still reminding us of the incredible scope of the work that’s being done. It’s really nothing less than humanity’s first real steps to expanding beyond our cradle on earth, and the more you think about it, the more astounding it is.
So, thanks, Samantha Cristoforetti, for helping us to think about it more.
Contact the author at email@example.com.