Its real name is STS-120, but it is better known as Mission Esperia, after Italy’s ancient Greek name. It’s the Space Shuttle mission that headed for the International Space Station in October 2007. The crew consisted of 6 US astronauts and an Italian one, Paolo Nespoli. The goal of the mission was delivering and installing the Italian-built Node 2 module, the crucial last portion of the Station. Before the launch, the documentary takes us on a trip to Houston’s Johnson Space Center, where the austronauts complete their training and gravity-free operations are simulated. Here we meet Paolo Nespoli and the other Italians who work at NASA. The discussion focuses mostly on technical matters, but motivation and feelings are also an issue. Being part of a mission is both the final step in a long training process and a dream come true.
Completing a mission successfully is a team effort, and many Italians have crucial roles to play. Italy has designed and built as much as 40% of the Space Station, namely the modules (Leonardo, Raffaello and Donatello) designed to transport the supplies required for Station operations and experiments in orbit - sorts of “space elevators” to practise the long space trips that will take us to Mars some day.