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Science & Exploration

N° 3–2020: Record-breaking astronaut returns from six months in orbit

6 February 2020

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano returned to Earth today alongside NASA astronaut Christina Koch and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, marking the end of his second six-month International Space Station mission known as ‘Beyond’.

Returning in the same Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft that flew Luca, Alexander and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan to the Space Station on 20 July 2019, the trio landed in the Kazakh steppe on 6 February at 09:12 GMT (10:12 CET).

Luca is now flying directly to Cologne, Germany, where he will continue to be monitored by ESA’s space medicine team as he readapts to Earth’s gravity at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC) and DLR’s ‘:envihab’ facility.

Luca’s return to Earth marks the successful conclusion of his Beyond mission. During this mission, Luca became the third European and first Italian in command of the International Space Station, performed four complex spacewalks to maintain the cosmic-ray detecting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer AMS-02, gained the European record for most cumulative hours spent spacewalking at 33 hours and 9 minutes, remotely operated a rover in the Netherlands as part of the Analog-1 experiment, delivered an important climate change message to leaders at the UN climate change conference in Madrid, and supported over 50 European experiments as well as 200 international experiments in space.

Back on Earth, Luca will continue working with European researchers on experiments including Acoustic Diagnostics that looks into the impact of the Space Station environment on astronaut hearing, the TIME experiment that looks at whether astronauts judge time differently in space, and two experiments known as Grip and GRASP that look into the physiology behind eye-hand coordination and the role of gravity in regulating grip force, among others. 

The findings of research conducted as part of Luca’s Beyond mission will help shape the future of human and robotic exploration while enhancing technological developments on Earth.

Media opportunity


Media are invited to Luca’s first public appearance after his Beyond mission at EAC on Saturday, 8 February. He will be joined for this one-hour event by ESA Director General Jan Wörner, ESA Director for Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker, Head of EAC Frank De Winne and fellow ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.  

Highlights of the mission have also been documented with a large selection of images captured by Luca available to view and download on Flickr:

Video content from his time in space is also available on YouTube and regular mission updates can be found on the Beyond blog as well as the Beyond mission podcast.

The press conference on 8 February at EAC starts at 11:30 GMT (12:30 CET) and will run until 12:30 GMT (13:30 CET). It will also be shown live on ESA Web TV:

The event will be held in English and Italian and the schedule is as follows:

  • From 10:00 GMT (11:00 CET) EAC arrival and registration
  • 11:30 GMT (12:30 CET) Start of the press conference
  • 12:30 GMT (13:30 CET) End of the press conference

There are limited interview opportunities with Jan Wörner, David Parker, Frank De Winne and Samantha Cristoforetti immediately after this event. These interviews must be requested in advance. Please note: there will be no opportunity for any one-on-one interviews with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano because of operational reasons.

Media should register their attendance in advance of this event via The final day for registrations is 6 February 2020 at 16:00 GMT (17:00 CET).

About the European Space Agency


The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of which 20 are Member States of the EU. Slovenia is an Associate Member.

ESA has established formal cooperation with seven other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities. Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

Learn more about ESA at

For further information:

ESA Newsroom and Media Relations


Tel: +49 2203 6001 121