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Paolo Nespoli

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Title: Paolo Nespoli  
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Subject: First Orbit, Expedition 27, Expedition 26, Kounotori 2, STS-134
Collection: 1957 Births, Italian Astronauts, Italian Soldiers, Living People, People from Milan, Polytechnic Institute of New York University Alumni
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Paolo Nespoli

Paolo A. Nespoli
ASI/ESA Astronaut
Nationality Italian
Status Active
Born (1957-04-06) 6 April 1957
Milan, Italy
Other occupation
Italian Army
Time in space
174d 09h 40m
Selection 1998 ESA Group
Missions STS-120, Soyuz TMA-20 (Expedition 26/27)
Mission insignia

Paolo Angelo Nespoli (Milan, 6 April 1957) is an Italian astronaut and engineer . In 2007, he first traveled into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery as a mission specialist of STS-120. In December 2010 he again traveled into space aboard the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft as an Expedition 26/27 flight engineer.


  • Personal 1
  • Education 2
  • Awards 3
  • Astronaut career 4
    • STS-120 4.1
    • Expedition 26/27 'MagISStra' 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Nespoli's hometown is Verano Brianza, in northern Italy. He is married to Alexandra Ryabova and they have one daughter. Nespoli enjoys Scuba diving, piloting aircraft, photography, building electronic equipment and computer software.[1]


He received his Bachelor's degree in Aerospace engineering in 1988 and his Master's degree in 1989 in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Polytechnic University in New York.

He is a professional engineer, a private pilot, an advanced scuba diver and a nitrox diver. Due to his military background, he is also a master parachutist, parachute instructor, jump master, high altitude low opening and Special Forces operator. He joined the Italian Army in 1977.


Nespoli has received the following awards:

He received the America Award of the Italy-USA Foundation in 2015.

Astronaut career

In July 1998, he was selected as an astronaut for Italian Space Agency (ASI) and in August 1998, Nespoli was assigned by the European Space Agency to train at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.


STS-120 mission specialist Paolo Nespoli in the International Space Station.

On 23 October 2007 Paolo launched on board STS-120 to the International Space Station; the Space Shuttle mission which delivered the Harmony module (formerly known as Node 2) to the International Space Station. Harmony was built by Thales Alenia Space at its facility in Turin, Italy. He participated as a mission specialist and remained in space for 15 days, 2 hours and 23 minutes. During STS-120, he participated in the Esperia mission for the European Space Agency.[2]

Expedition 26/27 'MagISStra'

Expedition 26/27 flight engineer Paolo Nespoli poses with Robonaut 2.

Paolo Nespoli served as first flight engineer for Expedition 26/27, Europe’s third six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS).[3]

On 15 December 2010 Nespoli flew aboard the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station with the Russian cosmonaut Dmitri Kondratyev and NASA’s astronaut Catherine Coleman. The three members of the crew returned to Earth in May 2011. This mission, dubbed ‘MagISStra’, is Paolo Nespoli’s second flight in space.

From December 2010 to May 2011, Paolo Nespoli’s duties[4] aboard the ISS included participating in the docking operations to receive Europe’s second Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-2) "Johannes Kepler", a visiting spacecraft that will deliver essential cargo to the Station. In early January, Nespoli filmed the majority of the footage for the documentary film First Orbit, and as a result is credited as its director of photography.

Nespoli took part in the arrival of the second Japanese HII Transfer Vehicle (HTV-2), an unmanned spacecraft used to resupply the ISS. He was the prime operator for berthing the HTV-2 to the ISS after the free-flying vehicle was captured by NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman. In May 2011, Space Shuttle Endeavour has delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) to the ISS.

During Nespoli's stint with Expedition 27, his mother, Maria, died on 4 May 2011. The crew observed 1 minute of silence the following day around the time of her funeral.[5]

Paolo Nespoli carried out an intensive programme of experiments in the Station, ranging from radiation monitoring to measurements that could improve oil recovery in petroleum reservoirs. The mission scientific programme covered different fields on human research, fluid physics, radiation, biology and technology demonstrations.

Nespoli contributed to the scientific exploitation of Europe’s Columbus laboratory. As an astronaut, he carried out several experiments for ESA, NASA and also the Japanese and Canadian space agencies. During the mission, Paolo participated in some educational activities: the educational programme "Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut" which gave children the chance to follow an international initiative built around health, well-being and nutrition. He also participated in a greenhouse activity in space. Nespoli used ESA’s novel 3D camera to show images of the ISS.

As Paolo left the ISS on 23 May 2011 in the Soyuz TMA-20 he was able to take the first pictures of a space shuttle docked with the ISS from the perspective of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.[6]

Nespoli is scheduled to be a part of Expedition 52/53, which starts in 2017.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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External links

  • ESA profile page
  • Name and designer logo revealed for Paolo Nespoli’s Shuttle mission to the ISS
  • NASA Biography
  • Spacefacts biography of Paolo A. Nespoli
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