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ESA Astronaut Paolo Nespoli Leads Vita Space Mission in 2017

Nov 29, 2016 05:30 AM EST

The European Space Agency announced that Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli will be launched to the International Space Station next year, through an official statement released on November 24. Nespoli will be launched on a Soyuz vehicle in May 2017 on a five-month mission, which is part of a barter agreement between NASA and Italy's ASI space agency involving ESA astronauts, according to ESA.

Aside from naming Nespoli, the space agency also unveiled the mission's name and logo.

"Vita stands for Vitality, Innovation, Technology and Ability and was chosen by Italy's ASI space agency, which is providing the mission through a barter agreement with NASA. In Italian, "vita" means "life", reflecting the experiments that Paolo will run and the philosophical notion of living in outer space - one of the most inhospitable places for humans," ESA said in a statement.

Developed by ESA, ASI, and Nespoli himself, Vita's logo is a circular shape and a bright blue color, which represents our home planet, Earth. It also prominently features the Third Paradise symbol by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto linking the mission's main messages. The colors of the Italian flag can also be spotted in the Vita logo to show Nespoli's country of origin.

"Three elements stand out: a strand of DNA as a symbol of life and science, a book as a symbol of culture and education, and Earth as a symbol of humanity. The Third Paradise is a reformulation of the symbol for infinity. The two opposing ovals contain elements of the scientific and cultural activities Paolo will perform in space. Their meeting in the centre represents the evolution of Earth and benefits for humankind," ESA explains, Space Daily reports.

Mission Vita is Paolo Nespoli's third space flight. His ESA profile shows that in 2007, Nespoli flew as a mission specialist on Space Shuttle Discovery for the STS-120 flight to the ISS, and in 2008, for Expedition 26/27. Last year, Paolo was given his third spaceflight as part of Expeditions 52 and 53 to the ISS.

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