Samantha Cristoforetti holds the record for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight by a European astronaut – but you might know her for another piece of history.
She is the first person to make a TikTok video aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Cristoforetti has become a star on the social media site, where her videos have had millions of views.
Italy’s first female astronaut is using her second space mission to help TikTok reach the final frontier.
Cristoforetti first traveled to space in 2014, spending 199 days aboard the ISS – then the record for the longest space mission by a woman, although that has since been broken by Peggy Whitson in 2017and next Christina Koch, in 2019.
The European Space Agency astronaut returned in April 2022 and did so in front of a growing crowd.
One video in particular, made in memory of Douglas Adams, author of the seminal science fiction series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, has garnered over 17 million views on TikTok.
In the video, Cristoforetti shows viewers how a wet towel behaves in weightlessness, while stating that it is “a hoopy frood who always knows where his towel is– a well-known quote among Hitchhikers fans.
The Italian has been making these jokes since she went to space. Its initial mission was NASA’s 42nd expedition to the ISS. No prizes for guessing the theme, but you might be impressed by the official poster she tweeted.
The space is big. Really big.
Cristoforetti is currently part of the ISS Minerva mission – named after the Roman goddess of wisdom and the artsin honor of “the sophisticated craftsmanship of the men and women around the world who make human spaceflight possible”.
She is part of a four-person crew that flew from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 27 in a SpaceX Dragon capsule. They are the fourth crew to travel to the ISS in a SpaceX vehicle.
As of this writing, his TikTok video detailing the process from launch to installation at the ISS received 1.2 million views.
When she’s not lighting up the internet with her impactful videos, Cristoforetti works 12 hours a day on maintenance and scientific research.
One of her projects is to understand how ovarian cells function in a microgravity environment. And although it’s at a preliminary stage, she thinks the experiment could be beneficial for the people of Earth.
“When you understand how this biology works, you have the potential to also develop targeted drugs and medical interventions to improve this function,” she said.
“One of the big goals of the space station right now is to develop and mature technologies related to life support – keeping humans alive in the space environment.
“We have legacy equipment that has been on the space station that has been working quite well for a few decades now. But there is also a drive to develop the next generation of that equipment which needs to be more compact, more efficient, more robust and need less maintenance.”
His workday also includes mandatory exercise time, as long periods in space pose a health risk to astronauts and can even lead to bone loss.
You will not be surprised to learn now that Cristoforetti has a TikTok for thattoo.
Cristoforetti believes that over the next decade more people will travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
“I’m confident we’ll also see space agencies look to targets beyond low Earth orbit, especially smaller spaces, such as the surface of the moon,” she said.
But back in the confines of Earth, Cristoforetti has some advice for aspiring astronauts.
She told the BBC “it takes so much luck” to become an astronaut, and she thinks all astronauts are “incredibly grateful and aware of this privilege”.
During a recent campaign to select a new class of astronauts, there was a conscious effort to “reach out to young women to ensure that the pool of applicants…was [as] as diverse as possible.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a hostile environment for women,” Cristoforetti added. “So it’s just about finding a way and studying the right thing.
“It’s especially a good idea to study a core subject – science, technology, engineering and math – even medicine, and then find a way into industry.”
And for even younger aspiring astronauts, Cristoforetti has set himself an additional training challenge in space.
The astronaut will practice yoga on the ISS, something children on Earth can watch and participate in.
Surely it’s only a matter of time before Cristoforetti posts a space yoga video on TikTok? I hope she doesn’t keep us waiting too long the answer to this ultimate question.
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