- Oldest active European Space Agency astronaut
- Involved in the training and qualification curriculum requirements of European Astronauts
- Three International Space Station Missions
- Recipient of numerous awards
Paolo Nespoli has had a long, distinguished career both in the Italian military and as an astronaut. Although his academic training got off to a rocky start, with him leaving university to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up, his life after joining the military was highly successful. He was a member of Italy’s special forces unit.
Intent upon attaining his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, Paolo Nespoli requested two years’ leave from the army and enrolled at the Department of Aerospace Engineering of the New York University Polytechnic Institute. There he learned to speak English. He was fluent in Italian, his native language, and French at that time. He obtained both a Bachelor of Science and Aerospace Engineering and a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Upon completing his studies, Paolo Nespoli returned to Italy to work with Proel Tecnologie as a design engineer involved in the final testing stages of the electron gun, one of the main devices of the Tethered Satellite, as well as various projects dealing with thermionic equipment for space applications.
In 1991, Paolo Nespoli went to work at the European Astronaut Centre where he was involved in the training and qualification curriculum requirements of European Astronauts. This period also saw him in charge of creating the Astronaut Training Database. Three years later saw him assigned to the EuroMir95 project. In a joint project with the Russian Federal Space Agency, the aim was the implementation of the first long-duration European Space mission. In 1996, however, he was once again transferred. This time to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Huston, Texas, where he represented the European Space Agency in the development of the International Curriculum of Basic, Advanced, and Mission Training for the International Space Station.
His first launch into space to the International Space Station was on the 2007 expedition about the Space Shuttle delivering the Harmony module. From there he served on the 6-month Expedition 26/27 as the flight engineer. In 2010, Paolo Nespoli flew about the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft. Together with a Russian cosmonaut and USA astronaut. His mission saw him partake in numerous activities, including the filming of most of the 2011 documentary film First Orbit.
In 2017 he launched into space as part of Expedition 52/53. He completed various experiments during this time, acted as a cinematographer for Nation Geographic, and recorded the first content created in space specifically for use on Wikipedia. Paolo Nespoli stayed in space for a total of 138 days.
Amongst his achievements and awards, he counts a NASA Space Flight Medal, Commendatore Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella della solidarietà italiana, and America Award of the Italy-USA Foundation.
Paolo Nespoli – Speaker
As a speaker, Paolo Nespoli talks on topics surrounding astronautics, performance, teamwork, innovation, facing your fears, and achieving your dreams. He lives in Italy and presents in Italian and English.
- Excellent Performance Even In Extreme Conditions: When a spacecraft carrying astronauts to the International Space Station takes off, you are sitting on what can be regarded as a “controlled-release mini-nuke”. How do you control your emotions in extreme situations under heavy stress? Through the account of his experiences, Paolo explains how to prepare and train your mind and body in one of the most extreme experiences that humans can live today: travelling towards, and living in, an inhospitable space for our species.
- The Challenge: How To Push Beyond Your Limits –Through the reconstruction of the relationship between the US and the USSR, Paolo addresses the subject of how a healthy competition pushes people beyond their limits, thanks to a mechanism of ongoing challenge. How can we deal with change and prepare for growth? Every phase of our lives, whether personal or professional, presents us with challenges that put a strain not only on our abilities but also on how we approach the most different situations. Finding ways to evolve, constantly improve, and go beyond one’s limits is essential for growth.
- Innovation And Simplicity: What does innovation mean? How can we turn new ideas into something really useful? Paolo was fortunate enough to travel in space both on the US Space Shuttle and on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft: starting from this comparison, he helps us discover the reason why the most technology-intensive solutions are not always the most effective ones. What are the additional requirements that make innovation actionable in a fast-changing world? Our contemporary world, with its ever-new opportunities, forces us to think ahead of our time. Technology and innovation, however, must be combined with simplicity and functionality.
- Passion And Dream: What drives us to new heights? What makes us unique? Looking back to the selection phase to become an Astronaut, Paolo shows how his passions have played a decisive role in his career and how this led him to become an Astrophotographer. Passion is one of the distinctive traits of human beings, it is the flame that allows us to face daily challenges and to achieve the most ambitious goals. Nurturing our passions is rewarding, it allows us to make courageous choices, to dream impossible dreams, and, finally, fulfil them.
- Teamwork: Through the teamwork behind the scenes supporting the astronauts, Paolo tells us how the Astronauts and the Houston Mission Control Centre work together to achieve superb results. Besides retracing how astronaut crews train for space missions, Paolo explores how to build a real team and how to appreciate individual team members. To achieve ambitious goals, it is necessary to rely on teamwork. The group supports the individual who, in turn, works in synergy with the team. Team members need to be aware of their roles, strengths, and weaknesses and do their best work for a common goal.
- Problem Solving: Retracing the phases of the incident that occurred during Paolo’s first mission, inherent to the construction of the ISS, Paolo addresses the issue of creative problem-solving skills as a useful tool to achieve extraordinary results. A proactive, analytical, and innovative attitude, applied to teamwork, allows solving even the most complex problems. Thinking out of the box leads to fresh and useful, concrete yet visionary solutions which, if consciously applied, lead to a collective advantage.