#Italian Astronaut in space: Luca Parmitano survives harrowing experience

Public domain photo: Night picture of Italy contributed by Luca Parmitano/NASA and posted on Wikimedia Commons
Public domain photo: Night picture of Italy contributed by Luca Parmitano/NASA and posted on Wikimedia Commons

I read an interesting article in the Vancouver Sun recently about Luca Parmitano, the Italian astronaut who nearly drowned in his helmet during a spacewalk last month. He has recently shared more details about the terrifying experience, revealing how he felt all alone and frantically tried to come up with a plan to save himself. He wrote in his online blog that he could no longer see as the water sloshed around in his helmet outside the International Space Station.

This harrowing experience captured my attention as I know it must have captured the attention of the entire the world. Based on the article I read, I was curious to know more about Luca Parmitano, and I found out that he was born in Palermo and is currently an Italian astronaut in the European Astronaut Corps for the European Space Agency, having been selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009. He is also a Major and pilot for the Italian Air Force. In 2007, he was awarded the Medaglia d’Argento al Valore Aeronautico (Silver Medal for Aeronautical Valor) by the President of the Italian Republic, after safely landing his craft in an emergency.

The wonderful photo that Luca Parmitano took of Italy from space somehow encapsulates the feelings that he must have felt in seeing his country from that lofty height. Yet, despite being born in Italy, he is extremely articulate in English and his blog posting is really quite engaging. After reading his account, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe, a certain sense of adventure, and then the huge sigh of relief when he makes it through the experience; it feels almost as if you were right there with him the whole time.

Besides his intense bravery in the face of death, a certain sense of humility emerges from his blog account that is truly endearing. There are comments posted in several languages in response to his blog posting. A few paragraphs down he responded with this comment in Italian:

August 20, 2013 at 16:50

"Mi piace pensare che ogni esperienza abbia un suo significato e una sua importanza. Spesso quelle che inizialmente ci sembrano negative possono portare inaspettate e gradite sorprese…"

("I like to think that every experience has its own meaning and its importance. Often those that initially seem negative can bring unexpected and pleasant surprises …")

I think that says it all.

Ci sentiamo presto, Lina

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