Astronaut Biography: Paolo A. Nespoli
STS-120 mission specialist Paolo A. Nespoli poses for a preflight photo.
Credit: NASA.

NAME: Paolo Angelo Nespoli
ESA Astronaut

PERSONAL DATA: Born on 6 April 1957 in Milan, Italy. His hometown is Verano Brianza, Milan, Italy. Enjoys SCUBA diving, piloting aircraft, and assembly of computer hardware, electronic equipment and computer software.

EDUCATION: Received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering in 1988 and a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1989 from the Polytechnic University of New York. Awarded the Laurea in Ingegneria Meccanica by the Universit? degli Studi di Firenze, Italy, in 1990.

QUALIFICATIONS AND LICENSES: Civilian: Professional engineer, private pilot with instrument rating, advanced SCUBA diver, and NitrOx diver. Military: Major (Italian Army Reserve), master parachutist, parachutist instructor, jump master, high altitude low opening, and Special Forces operator.

SPECIAL HONORS AND AWARDS: Team achievement awards for space mission Mir 97 (German Space Agency), space mission EUROMIR 95 (ESA), NASA-Mir Program (NASA), space mission EUROMIR 94 (ESA), Bed Rest Experiment (ESA ? French Space Agency), Columbus Utilization Simulation (ESA).

EXPERIENCE: Nespoli was drafted by the Italian army in 1977 and became a non-commissioned officer working as a parachute instructor at the Scuola Militare di Paracadutismo of Pisa. In 1980, he joined the 9? Btg d'Assalto " Col Moschin" of Livorno where he became a Special Forces operator. From 1982 to 1984, he was assigned to the Italian contingent of the Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Beirut, Lebanon. Following his return to Italy, he was appointed an officer and continued working as a Special Forces operator.

Nespoli resumed university studies in 1985. He left active army duty in 1987. Upon completing his M.Sc. in 1989, he returned to Italy to work as a design engineer for Proel Tecnologie in Florence, where he conducted mechanical analysis and supported the qualification of the flight units of the Electron Gun Assembly, one of the main parts of the Italian Space Agency's Tethered Satellite System (TSS).

In 1991, he joined ESA?s European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany. As an astronaut training engineer, he contributed to the preparation and implementation of basic training for the European astronauts and he was responsible for the preparation and management of astronaut proficiency maintenance. He was also responsible for the Astronaut Training Database, a software system used for the preparation and management of astronaut training.

In 1995, he was detached to the EUROMIR project at ESA?s ESTEC establishment in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, where he was responsible for the team that prepared, integrated and supported the Payload and Crew Support Computer used on the Russian space station Mir.

In 1996, he was detached to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where he worked in the Spaceflight Training Division on the preparation of training for the ground and in-orbit crews of the International Space Station.

In July 1998, he was selected as an astronaut by the Italian space agency (ASI), and one month later, joined ESA?s European astronaut corps, whose home base is the European Astronaut Center (EAC) in Cologne, Germany.

In August 1998, he was relocated to NASA?s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and assigned to the XVIIth NASA Astronaut class. In 2000 he obtained the necessary basic qualifications for being assigned to a mission on the Space Shuttle and to the International Space Station. In July 2001, he successfully completed the course for operating the Space Shuttle robotics arm and, in September 2003, successfully completed the Extra Vehicular Activities advanced skills training.

In August 2004, he was temporarily assigned to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Moscow, Russia, where he followed the initial training for the Soyuz spacecraft. On returning to NASA?s astronaut office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Nespoli performed proficiency training to maintain acquired qualifications as well as attending advanced courses. In addition, he carried out technical duties for NASA, ESA, and the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

In June 2006, Nespoli was assigned to Space Shuttle Mission STS-120 that is dedicated to the build-up of the International Space Station (ISS). One of the main tasks of this mission will be the delivery and installation of the Italian-built Node 2, a major building block that will allow for further expansion of the ISS. Another important task will be the relocation of one of the four solar arrays that provide power to the ISS. STS-120 is currently planned for October 2007.