The Most Famous


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This page contains a list of the greatest Italian Astronauts. The pantheon dataset contains 524 Astronauts, 7 of which were born in Italy. This makes Italy the birth place of the 7th most number of Astronauts behind Germany and China.

Top 7

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the most legendary Italian Astronauts of all time. This list of famous Italian Astronauts is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity.

Photo of Michael Collins

1. Michael Collins (1930 - )

With an HPI of 82.36, Michael Collins is the most famous Italian Astronaut.  His biography has been translated into 69 different languages on wikipedia.

Michael Collins (October 31, 1930 – April 28, 2021) was an American astronaut who flew the Apollo 11 command module Columbia around the Moon in 1969 while his crewmates, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, made the first crewed landing on the surface. He was also a test pilot and major general in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Born in Rome, Kingdom of Italy, Collins graduated in the Class of 1952 from the United States Military Academy. He joined the United States Air Force, and flew F-86 Sabre fighters at Chambley-Bussières Air Base, France. He was accepted into the U.S. Air Force Experimental Flight Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in 1960, also graduating from the Aerospace Research Pilot School (Class III). Selected as part of NASA's third group of 14 astronauts in 1963, Collins flew in space twice. His first spaceflight was on Gemini 10 in 1966, in which he and Command Pilot John Young performed orbital rendezvous with two spacecraft and undertook two extravehicular activities (EVAs, also known as spacewalks). On the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, he became one of 24 people to fly to the Moon, which he orbited thirty times. He was the fourth person (and third American) to perform a spacewalk, the first person to have performed more than one spacewalk, and, after Young, who flew the command module on Apollo 10, the second person to orbit the Moon alone. After retiring from NASA in 1970, Collins took a job in the Department of State as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. A year later, he became the director of the National Air and Space Museum, and held this position until 1978, when he stepped down to become undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1980, he took a job as vice president of LTV Aerospace. He resigned in 1985 to start his own consulting firm. Along with his Apollo 11 crewmates, Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2011.

Photo of Paolo Nespoli

2. Paolo Nespoli (1957 - )

With an HPI of 58.10, Paolo Nespoli is the 2nd most famous Italian Astronaut.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Major Paolo Angelo Nespoli (born 6 April 1957) is an Italian astronaut and engineer of the European Space Agency (ESA). In 2007, he first traveled into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery as a mission specialist of STS-120. In December 2010 he again traveled into space aboard the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft as an Expedition 26/27 flight engineer. Nespoli's third spaceflight was on board Soyuz MS-05, which launched in July 2017 for Expedition 52/53. He was also the European Space Agency's oldest active astronaut prior to his retirement in 2019.

Photo of Samantha Cristoforetti

3. Samantha Cristoforetti (1977 - )

With an HPI of 57.53, Samantha Cristoforetti is the 3rd most famous Italian Astronaut.  Her biography has been translated into 40 different languages.

Samantha Cristoforetti, OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [saˈmanta kristofoˈretti]; born in Milan on 26 April 1977) is an Italian European Space Agency astronaut, former Italian Air Force pilot and engineer. She holds the record for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight by a European astronaut (199 days, 16 hours), and until June 2017 held the record for the longest single space flight by a woman until this was broken by Peggy Whitson and later by Christina Koch. She is also the first Italian woman in space. She is scheduled to take command of ISS Expedition 68 in 2022.In December 2021, Politico Europe named her as one of the "dreamers" in its annual list of the 28 most influential people in Europe.

Photo of Umberto Guidoni

4. Umberto Guidoni (1954 - )

With an HPI of 54.06, Umberto Guidoni is the 4th most famous Italian Astronaut.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Umberto Guidoni (born 18 August 1954 in Rome) is an Italian astrophysicist, science writer and a former ESA astronaut, being the first European to visit the International Space Station. He is a veteran of two NASA Space Shuttle missions. He was also a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2004 to 2009, with the Group of the European United Left (GUE/NGL).

Photo of Luca Parmitano

5. Luca Parmitano (1976 - )

With an HPI of 53.53, Luca Parmitano is the 5th most famous Italian Astronaut.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Colonel Luca Parmitano (born 27 September 1976 in Paternò, Sicily) is an Italian astronaut in the European Astronaut Corps for the European Space Agency (ESA). He was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009. Parmitano is also a Colonel and test pilot for the Italian Air Force.

Photo of Roberto Vittori

6. Roberto Vittori (1964 - )

With an HPI of 53.39, Roberto Vittori is the 6th most famous Italian Astronaut.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Brigadier Roberto Vittori, OMRI (born 15 October 1964, in Viterbo) is an Italian Air Force officer and an ESA astronaut. After graduating from the Italian Accademia Aeronautica in 1989, Vittori flew in the Italian Air Force. He then trained as a test pilot in the United States. In 1998, Vittori was selected by the ESA to join the European Astronaut Corps. Since then, he has participated in three spaceflights: the Soyuz TM-34/33 and Soyuz TMA-6/5 taxi flights to the ISS, as well as STS-134, the penultimate mission of the American Space Shuttle Program in 2011. He was the last non-American to fly aboard the Shuttle.

Photo of Maurizio Cheli

7. Maurizio Cheli (1959 - )

With an HPI of 51.59, Maurizio Cheli is the 7th most famous Italian Astronaut.  Her biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Maurizio Cheli (born 4 May 1959, in Zocca) is an Italian air force officer, a European Space Agency astronaut and a veteran of one NASA Space Shuttle mission. A native of Modena, Cheli attended the Italian Air Force Academy and trained as a test pilot in 1988 at the Empire Test Pilots' School, England. He was awarded the McKenna Trophy as the best student on his course, as well as the Sir Alan Cobham Award for the highest standard of flying and the Hawker Hunter Thropy for he best Preview Handling report. He studied geophysics at the University of Rome La Sapienza and earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Houston. He then trained with the United States Air Force and was selected as an astronaut candidate by the European Space Agency in 1992. He holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Italian Air Force. He flew aboard STS-75 in 1996 as a mission specialist. That same year he joined Alenia Aeronautica, and two years later he became Chief Test Pilot for combat aircraft. His last test program was for the Eurofighter Typhoon. Maurizio Cheli has more than 380 hours of space activity and more than 4500 flying hours on more than 50 different aircraft types. He is married to fellow former ESA astronaut Marianne Merchez. During the 2009 Torino World Air Games, on 12 June 2009 the SkySpark experimental aircraft piloted by Cheli logged the speed world record for its class, powered by an electric engine designed by the DigiSky, an aviation technologies firm founded by Cheli himself in 2005.

Pantheon has 7 people classified as astronauts born between 1930 and 1977. Of these 7, 7 (100.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living astronauts include Michael Collins, Paolo Nespoli, and Samantha Cristoforetti.

Living Astronauts

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