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International Space Station: first spacewalk by a European astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti

The Italian Samantha Cristoforetti began the first spacewalk of a European astronaut from the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, according to images transmitted by NASA.

The extra-vehicular activity (EVA) of this member of the astronaut corps of the European Space Agency (ESA), carried out at an altitude of more than 400 km, is scheduled to last six and a half hours in the company of the Russian cosmonaut and commander from the ISS Oleg Artemiev.

Their mission includes several tasks concerning the Russian scientific module Nauka and particularly the new robotic arm ERA (European Robotic Arm).

This is the second time in space for Samantha Cristoforetti, a 45-year-old engineer and fighter pilot, who left for the ISS on April 27. She holds the record for the longest space stay there for a woman on a mission, with a stay of 199 days in orbit, in 2014 and 2015. This time she should assume command of the station there, another first for a European astronaut. . Launched into orbit in July 2021 after many delays, the ERA robotic arm was installed a few months ago outside the Russian module of the ISS. 11 meters long, it allows to carry out maintenance or equipment tasks, mainly on the Russian segment, and can be directed from inside or outside the station. It can also operate in automatic mode and even be directed from an ESA ground station. (Belga)