Amazing encounters: Paolo Nespoli at ESOF 2010

There were many cool things about the Euro Science Open Forum (ESOF) in Turin earlier this month. Okay, so the lengthy opening ceremony wasn’t up there as one of them, but the interesting talks, engaging people and general passion for science that was in the air certainly were. I watched a Nobel laureate play a vuvuzela, made friends with the Irish contingent, who will be hosting ESOF 2012 in Dublin, connected with journalists from around the world and learnt about the science of humour. I partied at a castle, with people who it turns out, live in the same building as my cousin in central London, I went up in the great glass elevator at the city’s film and cinema museum and got a lift home with an Irish ambassador. All in all it was a lot of fun, but the pinnacle for me, was listening to Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli at a press conference about the International Space Station. Sadly I had to fly home before the main session, but I did manage to sneak a brief interview with him.

What a delight! How exciting! Ever since my Mojave trip and the photographs from the high altitude balloon I’ve been dreaming about seeing the world from space, and there I was, talking to someone who’d not only been in space already, but is going to live on the ISS for 6 months from December.

I think I got a bit giddy about it, I just wanted to ask about everything to do with the experience, but was so conscious of his precious time. Paolo was really nice to talk to and so humble about his position. I love it when you meet people who’ve done incredible things, but they still keep their feet on the ground and don’t get consumed by ego.

Anyway – so much has happened since then, I’m just trying to find time to blog it all. Here’s a chunk of our conversation where he reveals what he says when people ask him if he saw God in space, whether he’ll be tweeting from the ISS and what he’ll miss about Earth when he’s up there for 6 months. 

LISTEN HERE: Kate Arkless Gray in conversation with Paolo Nespoli

(Please respect my ownership of this audio – feel free to email me if you’d like to know more about it) 

Kate Arkless Gray and astronaut Paolo Nespoli

I met an astronaut! Wow.

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