Marymount - International School Rome
Marymount - International School Rome
Marymount - International School Rome
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Rome astronaut Walter Villadei to pilot Axiom Mission 3

Ax-3 Mission set for lift-off on Thursday.

Rome astronaut Walter Villadei will serve as pilot on the Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3), a private spaceflight to the International Space Station (ISS) set to launch on Thursday.

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

The flight is scheduled for lift-off at 22.49, Italian time, from the NASA's Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Ax-3 had been scheduled to take off on Wednesday but was delayed by 24 hours to allow for additional pre-launch checks.

The two-week mission will be operated by Axiom Space, a private Houston-based company which will be conducting its third flight under a partnership with NASA.

During their time aboard the ISS, the crew will carry out approximately 30 experiments.

In an interview with Corriere della Sera newspaper on Wednesday, Villadei said he was honoured to join the mission which he described as “an extraordinary opportunity to celebrate the 100 years of the Italian Air Force, and also the 60th anniversary of the launch of the San Marco 1, which in 1964 made Italy the third country in the world to send its own satellite into orbit.”

Who is Walter Villadei?

Born in Rome in 1974, Walter Villadei serves as a colonel in the Italian Air Force (ItAF) and is currently head of the ItAF representative office in the US, overseeing commercial spaceflight initiatives.

Villadei received cosmonaut training in Star City, Russia, and has extensive experience in Italian space programmes, including numerous assignments as a member of the scientific committee of the Italian Space Agency and national representative for the European Commission for the Space Surveillance and Tracking Program.

In June 2023 he flew on a sub-orbital flight to space with Virgin Galactic where he served as VIRTUTE-1 mission commander.

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