Rome

Italian set to make first trip to space

Parmitano, 36, youngest astronaut given long-duration mission

Italian set to make first trip to space

Rome, May 28 - Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano is set to make his first trip to space Tuesday aboard the Soyuz TMA spacecraft en route to the International Space Station (ISS). At 36 he is the youngest person to be given a long-duration ISS assignment and is the European Space Agency's newest astronaut after being selected just four years ago. He is co-piloting the Soyuz mission with Fyodor Yurchikhin from Georgia and Karen Nyberg from the US. The shuttle is scheduled to lift off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome at 20:31 GMT, or 02:31 local time on Wednesday. Parmitano, an Italian Air Force captain, has been training in Russia in preparation to spend six months at the ISS where his duties will include performing two space walks to work on the exterior of the station platform. "For Italy, for myself, and for the Italian Space Agency Asi, a space walk is an important step," he said in March when the news was announced.

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