It was with immense pride that the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce Texas hosted and co-presented a happy hour yesterday with the next astronauts bound for space.
At the conclusion of yesterday’s gathering at Arcodoro restaurant in Houston’s Galleria neighborhood, the astronauts took time out to pose for photos with guests and event organizers.
In the image above (from left, clockwise): Paolo Nespoli (Italy), IACC Executive Director Alessia Paolicchi, IACC President Brando Ballerini, Sergei Ryazanzky (Russia), Randy Bresnik (USA), Italian Consul General Elena Sgarbi, Alexander Misurkin (Russia), Joe Acaba (USA), and Mark Vande Hei (USA).
The event was made possible thanks to Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, who is making his third voyage to the International Space Station. He and his crew will be transported to the station via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in July.
Paolo spoke at length about his the space station’s international spirit of collaboration and cooperation.
Aboard the station, he said, “Russians will perform American experiments, Americans will perform Russian experiments.” All astronauts, he explained, work together to achieve their mission’s shared goals regardless of nationality.
In his address to the standing-room-only crowd, he also took time out to introduce his mission’s flight directors and surgeon, among others.
When Consul Sgarbi joked that she was sorry the astronauts couldn’t enjoy any of the wine at the happy hour, the crew’s training manager chimed in noting that “it isn’t on the schedule.”
There was no lack of emotion at yesterday’s gathering as attendees mingled with the brave men who will soon be bound for space and the support team that will guide them on their mission, here on earth, during their voyage, and on the station.
In thanking the astronauts and their team for their time, Sgarbi noted that “no one here will forget this day.”
“I’m just going to do my best up there,” said astronaut Nespoli humbly in his closing remarks.
Top image via Wikipedia.