Rome

Italian makes country's first space walk

At least one more scheduled for Luca Parmitano

Italian makes country's first space walk

Rome, July 9 - Luca Parmitano became the first Italian astronaut to take a space walk on Tuesday. It is the first of at least two scheduled space walks for the 36-year-old Sicilian outside the International Space Station (ISS), according to the Italian Space Agency (ASI). He is is the youngest person to be given a long-duration ISS assignment. Upon launching into space on May 29, Parmitano was delighted after setting a new time for the fastest trip to the ISS, just over six hours, from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome, the launchpad for Yuri Gagarin in 1961. "Ciao Mamma," he beamed on a video link to Rome, sparking comments in the Twittersphere including "he looks like the happiest man in the universe" and "Parmitano is out of this world". The pioneering astronaut from Paternò near Catania laughed when he saw his soon-to-be spacewalk companion, Chris Collins of the USA. "Your hair is buzzed off as much as mine, we're really streamlined," he chuckled before joining his new crewmates in a well-earned eight-hour sleep. Parmitano, a major in the Italian air force, trained for a year in Russia before co-piloting a Soyuz TMA spacecraft to the ISS where he will venture out to work on its external platform during a six-month stint on the station. His mission will involve numerous scientific experiments and will also feature good Italian food. Italian chefs have prepared and carefully dehydrated everything from lasagna to tiramisu', eggplant parmigiana, pesto risotto and mushroom risotto which Parmitano will share with others on board the ISS. Sealed in aluminium bags, the Italian food reached the space station before Parmitano. "I'm really looking forward to my first weightless meal," Parmitano said before catching his pre-mission shuteye. The mission couldn't have a more upbeat Italian name: 'Volare' ('Flying'), after the world-famous 1958 song by Domenico Modugno.

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