26 June 2001: the crew of NASA’s mission STS-100 “lands” in Maranello for an official visit to the town and the Ferrari plant.
Italian astronaut Umberto Guidoni, commander Ken Rominger, pilot Jeffrey Ashby and mission specialists John Philips and Scott Parazynski (American) and Chris Hadfield (Canadian) are welcomed by a cheering crowed.
The NASA crew, just back from Space Shuttle mission STS-100 to dock with the International Space Station (19 April – 1 May), paid a visit to the homeland of Ferrari in a fitting meeting between two of the world’s technology leaders.
The astronauts “landed” in the main square in Maranello, welcomed by a large crowd of townspeople and greeted by their countries’ national anthems. At the Town Hall, the crew members tasted local specialities such as Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, and during their meeting with the public they recounted details of the mission, which transported the Italian Raffaello module to the Space Station.
The encounter between the NASA astronauts and the town of Maranello, home of Ferrari, was highly significant, as both represent the cutting edge of innovation. Through its Space Division, Ferrari also developed aerospace components for the European Space Agency in the same period.
It was not the first time Maranello had welcomed astronauts and it would not be the last: in 1996 the crew of mission STS-75 – including Italians Umberto Guidoni and Maurizio Cheli – established a link with the town to talk to 200 students at the IPSIA Ferrari technical high school in Maranello; Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency visited in 2008 and 2011; American Steve Smith visited Ferrari 2012; and in October 2015 Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian woman to undertake a space mission, who participated in the Futura Mission together with Anton Skaplerov and Terry Virts.