This month, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti broke the world record for the most time spent by a woman in space on a single mission: 200 days. From her post on the International Space Station she conducted space walks, supported her team on their sorties, was responsible for cargo and helped grab and dock ferries with the station’s robotic arm.
I first heard of this multilingual astronaut when a radio station broadcast a recording of her reciting “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” from outer space—a selection suggested by her social media followers.
I was so mesmerized by her dream-like reading that I stopped everything I was doing to listen. After reciting the nursery rhyme we all know, she then transitioned into the words of Iza Trapani, from her children’s book “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. Here’s just one verse:
Out your window, through the sky,
Up above the world we'll fly.
Higher than a bird will go,
To places only rockets know.
Beyond the planes that soar up high,
Is where we'll travel, you and I.
Author-illustrator Trapani spoke only Polish when she came to the United States at the age of 7. Her relatives gave her a big book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes and she began to learn English as she read the poems.