Samantha Cristoforetti: "Futura: 200 days on the International Space Station"

European Space Agency Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti visited the OECD on 26 October 2015, sharing her experience at the International Space Station with OECD staff. Part of The Coffees of the Secretary-General series, you can read the complete transcript of Ms Cristoforetti’s presentation below.

I am here today because I have had the privilege of participating in an extraordinary experience. It is something that I have dreamt about since I was a little child, of one day going to space. And about a year ago, that dream came true, and it has been better than I ever imagined in my wildest dreams! I would like to share with you this experience today: 200 days on the International Space Station (ISS) for the Futura mission.

This adventure started for me on 23 November 2014, the launch took place at Baikonur Kazakhstan–a place which has actually made cosmonaut history, Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova and many others launched from this site. On the rocket, the space vehicle is right at the top, that’s where I was, everything else is just engine, propellant, fuel and oxidiser that is needed to develop all that energy which is needed to put us into space.

Although the ISS is only about 400km from the surface of the earth, it is hard to get there because you need to develop an incredible speed to stay in orbit–about 7kilometres per second. That is why you need something as complex and as magnificent as a rocket engine. I, as an engineer, marvel at these machines. I was part of an international crew of three people, Anton Shkaplerov from Russia, he was the Soyuz commander and on his second flight and Terry Virts from the United States, also on his second space flight, his first one was on the US shuttle. I was in fact the rookie on this flight as it was my first time in space. Incidentally, all three of us are fighter pilots, so we all came from the air forces of our respective countries; that is a little unusual for a space station crew, we usually have engineers and scientists; but in this case we had three pilots, a Russian, an Italian and an American going to space together–it sounds like a joke, but it is true!

We were situated in the tiny Soyuz space vehicle, it measures about 7 meters long, we three were tied in our seats in the centre part of this spaceship. It is also the only part that comes back with us to Earth after 200 days. After our launch, the rocket worked for only about 8 minutes to get us to space. During this time there were a lot of vibrations, lots of Gs, the pressure was so great I actually felt like I weighed 4 times my weight and then–magically–I was weightless. It is weird in the beginning, your brain plays tricks on you. For the first hour or so I had the distinct feeling that I was falling onto the control panel in front of me. My brain had to get used to the fact that there was no longer any weight.

The first thing that you need to do in space is to focus on procedures such as ensuring the capsule is working properly. I was responsible for the leak checks and making sure we were not venting atmosphere into space; if that happens it is a very bad day and you have to come home. Our spaceship worked flawlessly, we went around the earth four times and each orbit lasted about 90 minutes. So after 6 hours we arrived at our destination, the International Space Station!

Get the full transcript here

Short biography

Samantha Cristoforetti is an Italian astronaut. She was the first female European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut to complete a long-duration mission in space, spending six months on the International Space Station as part of the Futura Mission between November and June 2015. During this mission, she set new records for the longest single time in space for an ESA astronaut and female astronauts in general.

She is a Captain in the Italian Air Force, where she serves as a fighter pilot. She was one of the first women to apply to the Italian Air Force, when it opened applications to women. She has logged over 500 hours flying six types of military aircraft: SF-260, T-37, T-38, MB-339A, MB-339CD and AM-X.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical sciences from the University of Naples Federico II, and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, specialising in aerospace propulsion from the Technische Universität Munich. She was awarded the Honour Sword for best academic achievement from the Italian Air Force Academy.

She has gained fame from her creative videos, photographs and messages which she has tweeted during her mission to the International Space Station. She has raised awareness about climate change and human health, as well as the importance for girls to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers.

Visit and

©OECD Observer November 2015

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q1 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% May 2019 annual
Trade: +0.4% exp, -1.2% imp, Q1 2019
Unemployment: 5.2% July 2019
Last update: 8 July 2019

OECD Observer Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Subscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To order your own paper editions,email

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • MCM logo
  • The following communiqué and Chair’s statement were issued at the close of the OECD Council Meeting at Ministerial level, this year presided by the Slovak Republic.
  • Food production will suffer some of the most immediate and brutal effects of climate change, with some regions of the world suffering far more than others. Only through unhindered global trade can we ensure that high-quality, nutritious food reaches those who need it most, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, write in their latest Project Syndicate article. Read the article here.
  • Globalisation will continue and get stronger, and how to harness it is the great challenge, says OECD Secretary-General Gurría on Bloomberg TV. Watch the interview here.
  • OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York City.
  • The new OECD Observer Crossword, with Myles Mellor. Try it online!
  • Listen to the "Robots are coming for our jobs" episode of The Guardian's "Chips with Everything podcast", in which The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, and Jeremy Wyatt, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Birmingham, and Jordan Erica Webber, freelance journalist, discuss the findings of the new OECD report "Automation, skills use and training". Listen here.
  • Do we really know the difference between right and wrong? Alison Taylor of BSR and Susan Hawley of Corruption Watch tell us why it matters to play by the rules. Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview here.
  • Has public decision-making been hijacked by a privileged few? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Stav Shaffir, MK (Zionist Union) Chair of the Knesset Committee on Transparency here.
  • Can a nudge help us make more ethical decisions? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Saugatto Datta, managing director at ideas42 here.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2019