In June 2009 I told on the Google Lunar X PRIZE blog how my friend Samantha Cristoforetti was selected in May 2009 to become a new ESA astronaut. On September 1, 2009 she reported to ESA for beginning basic training.

Now I have just run across this photo posted to Twitter by space tweep @travelholic. It shows Samantha distributing autographed photos at an ESA public outreach event (see the full size version). When I saw her uniform and the patches on it, I fell over my chair — again — with excitement. I personally find this photo moving, and wanted to share it with fellow space tweeps.

UK space enthusiasts should also have a look at this photo. I hope they will feel equally moved by the same uniform and patches worn by the man sitting next to Samantha: Timothy Peake.