Astronaut Paolo Nespoli test-drives the 458 Italia

Paolo Nespoli, Massa and Chairman Luca di Montezemolo

He knows all about speed, but his exhilaration levels really did go sky-high when he got behind the wheel of a Ferrari: astronaut Paolo Nespoli visits Maranello

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

“We look forward to seeing you here soon”. “I’ll come visit as soon as I get back to Earth!”
The last time they spoke they were hundreds of thousands of kilometres apart. Luca di Montezemolo was sitting at his desk while Paolo Nespoli was floating weightless in space. The Ferrari Chairman was in Maranello while the Italian astronaut was orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station.

Then in July 2011, they finally got shake hands here in Maranello, much to the delight of the astronaut who declared: “I’m delighted to have another opportunity to visit the place that the most beautiful cars on earth are built.”
The extreme, however, is very much part of Nespoli’s life. But the path that brought him to Ferrari also meant that he was absolutely thrilled to take a drive in a 458 Italia with a Rosso Tristrato livery and a black roof: “I was here before in 2008, but every time I come it’s a new emotion. This time I also got to experience the exhilaration of driving a Ferrari on the track and I was lucky to have a very special instructor beside me in Felipe Massa.”

Nespoli took the passenger seat while Felipe quickly ran through the secrets to really getting the most out of Fiorano and showed the astronaut he could fly whilst still keeping his feet – and tyres – firmly on the ground. Although curious to see the Earth from above and to know what it felt to be in space, Massa confessed to Nespoli that he preferred the road to the skies.

And so after exchanging stories and experiences, Nespoli bade farewell to Montezemolo. Keeping his eyes on the sky but his heart on the track.

Published on July 2011

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