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Italy Gets Its First Spacewalker

Thanks to Luca Parmitano, Italy is now one of just ten countries that can boast about having an astronaut who's gone on a spacewalk.

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, Expedition 36 flight engineer, attired in his Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit, participates in a “dry run” in the International Space Station’s Quest airlock in preparation for the first of two sessions of extravehicular (EVA) scheduled for July 9 and July 16. Image Credit: NASA

Luca Parmitano became the first Italian to walk in space yesterday, making his country a member of the elite group that have had a citizen walk in space. Parmitano was doing routine tasks on the International Space Station, but his jaunt was still a big deal for the Italian Space Agency. Accompanied by American astronaut Chris Cassidy, Parmitano’s first spacewalk was so efficient that he and his colleague managed to get a head start on tasks that weren’t scheduled until next week.

Since arriving at the station in May Parmatino has attracted attention for his photography of Earth. He is also an active Twitter user, tweeting pictures and comments about space life in both Italian and English.

Italy is now one of just ten countries that can boast about having an astronaut who’s gone on a spacewalk. The others are the United States, Russia (formerly the USSR), China, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden. And that’s it.

The world has over 7 billion people living in over 190 nations, but only 517 people have gone to space, from 38 nations (including the USSR). About a third—334 of those 517—were Americans.

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