Near the end of November 2014, Samantha Cristoforetti, astronaut for the European Space Agency (ESA) was launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in a night flight. She and others in the crew will live on the International Space Station (ISS) on a five month mission called Futura. Samantha Cristoforetti snapped a shot of the eclipse on March 20th that comes incredibly close to the Mission patch for Futura.

Cristoforetti served as a flight engineer for NASA and the ESA on Expedition 42. That mission focused on Earth observation, the effect of microgravity on cells, and molecular, biological, and physical Science. Cristoforetti will also be participating in Expedition 43. In January, Cristoforetti and NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore caught the Dragon spacecraft carrying new experiments and supplies for the six astronauts living almost 250 miles (400 Km) above Earth.

Samantha Cristoforetti was born in Milan, Italy in 1977. She has a master's degree in mechanical engineering but the avid science fiction fan is also a specialist in lightweight structures and aerospace propulsion. She attended the Italian Air Force Academy with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical sciences. The talented Cristoforetti also mastered Euro-NATO joint Jet Pilot training. As an Italian Air Force captain, Cristoforetti has received the type of training that many only dream about.

She's also not afraid to answer somewhat personal questions. In an answer to a question about women menstruating on the ISS she replied that the supplies exist just as they do on Earth but for most, the decision is to use a pharmacological block similar to birth control pills that suppress female menstruation. She said that it's less of a hassle than for a man to have to shave each day, especially if he shaves his head... Could she have been talking about Scott Kelly who is to spend a year on the ISS?

On Friday, March 20th, Northern Europe was treated to a total eclipse of the sun. It's the kind of event that has planners for the electricity grid in full worst case scenario mode, when a full eclipse would greatly affect the power grid due to having a total eclipse on a sunny day. The load balancing needed to support the grid when power was taken away with the sun being covered was just as fraught with anxious moments from the start to the end.

First, engineers had to cope with the lack of light from the sun; and then, they had to correct when the sun came back in view of solar power generating panels. Some people were disappointed with the eclipse but Samantha Cristoforetti got the camera shot of a lifetime with her stunning photo of the eclipsing sun rising over the Earth that eerily matches the Futura mission patch.