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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

Italy premier in video call to Ax-3 astronaut Villadei from Colosseum

Walter Villadei is pilot of Axiom Mission 3.

Italy's prime minister Giorgia Meloni on Thursday spoke to Rome astronaut Walter Villadei via live video link between the Colosseum and the International Space Station.

Villadei is serving as the pilot in the Axiom Space (Ax-3) mission - a collorabation between Axiom Space, SpaceX and NASA - which lifted off on 18 January.

“I am delighted to be on board with you, albeit virtually" - Meloni told the Italian air force colonel - "As I imagine you can see, we are linked from the Colosseum, one of the most extraordinary symbols of our identity and our millenary history."

Meloni chatted to Villadei for a quarter of an hour, telling him that Italy is "rooting for him" and expressing the hope that as a nation "we can always do more, always move forward, continue with the enthusiasm with which you are talking to us and not imagine that there must be pre-established limits".

Meloni said she was also "particularly proud" that the Ax-3 astronauts are eating Italian food in space, thanking Villadei for agreeing "to be an ambassador for the candidacy of Italian cuisine as a UNESCO intangible heritage site."

Villadei, 49, is part of the four-person crew on the Ax-3 mission along with Spanish commander Michael López-Alegría, Turkey's Alper Gezeravcı and Sweden's Marcus Wandt.

During their two-week mission, the astronauts will carry out approximately 30 experiments aboard the ISS before returning to Earth on 3 February.

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