Italy's first female astronaut prepares for Soyuz mission

(AGI) Baikonur (Kazakistan), Nov. 15 - "We have very littleroom inside the spaceship but I will bring some souvenirs myfriends and family gave me. The launch does not scare me,"Italy's first female astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti told AGI,adding that "it will be fun to float around". Cristoforetti,from Italy's space agency ASI and the European space agency ESAis currently at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where sheis completing the standard pre-launch quarantine before thenext launch of the Soyuz TMA-15M to the International SpaceStation set for 21:01 (UTC) on November 23. The trip from

(AGI) Baikonur (Kazakistan), Nov. 15 - "We have very littleroom inside the spaceship but I will bring some souvenirs myfriends and family gave me. The launch does not scare me,"Italy's first female astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti told AGI,adding that "it will be fun to float around". Cristoforetti,from Italy's space agency ASI and the European space agency ESAis currently at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where sheis completing the standard pre-launch quarantine before thenext launch of the Soyuz TMA-15M to the International SpaceStation set for 21:01 (UTC) on November 23. The trip from earthto the ISS will last about six hours. Liftoff will take placefrom site 31 with three crew members on board the space craft:Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov, from Russia with SamanthaCristoforetti and NASA astronaut Terry Virts as FlightEngineers. The trio assigned to Expedition 42, also calledFutura, were flown in directly from Moscow (Star City) onTuesday afternoon by Russian space agency Roscosmos. "These arevery busy days because there are many things to check as welook at the cargo that has already been loaded and plan how toclimb into the spacecraft though the hatch. Right now we arecompleting pre-launch quarantine are are in contact only withmedical and management staff and others who follow thisprocedure. We will carry out a great number of experiments,about 200 in all, and ten will be conducted exclusively forASI, " Samantha said. The 37-year-old Italian Air Force captainwas raised in Male' and Bolzen, and studied in the UnitedStates, Munich and at the Academy of Pozzuoli in Naples. .