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Back to earth: ISS astronaut visits Bambino Gesù

Colonel Walter Villadei Visiting Bambino Gesu after mission

Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù | Provided

J-P Mauro - published on 02/26/24

Colonel Walter Villadei kept his promise to follow up on his video call to the little patients of Bambino Gesù, fielding more curious questions from the kids.

The astronaut who recently video-called with the little patients of Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital from aboard the International Space Station has returned to Earth and is keeping his promises.

Colonel Walter Villadei told the kids at Bambino Gesù that he would visit them in-person after his space mission concluded. And that’s just what he did, just days after his 250-mile descent. 

Colonel Walter Villadei Visiting Bambino Gesu after mission

Aleteia previously reported that Colonel Villadei was working on the ISS as part of the Ax-3 Voluntas mission, which ran experiments to advance scientific understanding. In particular, Ax-3 Voluntas aims to create a predictive model for diagnosing the health of astronauts

Another aspect of the mission, however, was to pay a virtual visit to the kids at Bambino Gesù for a conversation with an astronaut in space. The kids were very inquisitive, though they were more interested in what he was going to eat than in the science experiments.

Colonel Walter Villadei Visiting Bambino Gesu after mission

Curiosity flared once again when Colonel Villadei stepped into Bambino Gesù, wearing a blue jumpsuit similar to one he’d worn on the ISS. At the meeting in the playroom, the kids asked questions like How do I become an astronaut? What scared you? How do you sleep? And how do you pee in space?

Colonel Walter Villadei Visiting Bambino Gesu after mission

“Space is not scary!” Villadei explained to the children. “It is like the sky we see on Earth, but much bigger! Water is a precious resource, even more so in space. For this reason, astronauts’ pee is recycled, purified, and transformed into distilled water so that it can be reused, also to produce oxygen,” Villadei explained, drawing laughter and amazement from the children.

Colonel Walter Villadei Visiting Bambino Gesu after mission

After the playroom talk, Colonel Villadei went on to visit the patients hospitalized in the rheumatology department, led by Doctor Fabrizio De Benedetti. He noted that the in-person meeting with the children had a greater effect on him than the chat in space:

“For me it was a great emotion to finally be able to see the wonder in the children’s eyes, since during the connection from the space station I only had audio,” the Italian astronaut commented in a press release. 

Colonel Walter Villadei Visiting Bambino Gesu after mission
Astronaut Col. Villadei conversation with little patients of Bambino Gesu

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