How do you become an astronaut? European Space Agency astronaut and book author Samantha Cristoforetti will answer this question at length at Frankfurter Buchmesse (Saturday, 19 October 2019, 2.30 – 3.30 pm, Hall 4.2 N101, Academic & Business Information Stage). But, first, she talks to us here about her favourite books in space and much more.
You’re a fighter pilot, astronaut and now book author as well. What skills does one need to bring to these three roles?
For fighter pilots, the actual flying of the aircraft is paramount. While there’s a great deal that you have to learn (much more than they show in films!), things like hand-eye coordination, spatial-visualisation ability and fast reaction times also play a big part. These sorts of skills are also tested when astronauts are selected. Astronauts must bring with them acquired technical expertise and a strong capacity for teamwork.
As a book author... I have very limited experience. What was important for me, just to get it done at all, was the decision to take five weeks off to dedicate myself completely to it. That’s what allowed me to write the last third of the book, which describes the actual space mission.
What advice do you have for young people who want to join the European Space Agency (ESA)?
ESA has a great YGT – Young Graduate Trainee – programme. Outstanding graduates can apply to work on interesting projects with us for one or two years. That way they can get to know ESA and get a better sense of where they would best fit in and what positions might interest them. And if they make a good impression on us that will certainly be of advantage if they apply for a position later on.
Did you read any books during your 200 days on the International Space Station? If so, which ones?
I took several books along with me that I love and which I browsed every now and then – including, above all, “Flight to Arras” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and “Palomar” by Italo Calvino.
What are you looking forward to most at Frankfurter Buchmesse?
As an astronaut, I had the privilege of seeing our planet Earth from another perspective. That’s why the theme of the Weltempfang, “Man-made”, is extremely interesting to me. It’s about our influence on the planet and the relationship between culture and nature.
Thank you very much for talking with us, Ms Cristoforetti!
(Interview by Frank Krings, PR Manager at Frankfurter Buchmesse.)
Tickets to Frankfurter Buchmesse are available here.