Franco Malerba bigraphy, stories - Astronauts

Franco Malerba : biography

October 10, 1946 -

Franco Egidio Malerba (Ph.D.) (born October 10, 1946, in Busalla, Genoa, Italy) is an Italian astronaut. He was the first citizen of Italy to travel to space.

Married to the former Marie-Aude Némo. They have one child. Recreational interests include mountaineering, skiing, and tennis. He is fluent in Italian, English, and French.

Industry experience

  • 1976-89 Held technical and technical management positions with Digital Equipment in Italy and in Europe. He worked mainly in the field of multiprocessor systems (Paris 1976, Milan 1977), computer networks engineering (Geneva 1981-85), and telecommunications technology (Rome 1986-88, and Sophia Antipolis in 1989).

Other skills

Obtained scuba diving license from the Calypso Scuba Club, Geneva (1984).

Flying status

Obtained Private Pilot License (College Park, Washington, D.C., 1973) and then the equivalent Italian flying license.


Founding Member of the Italian Space Society.


  • 1965 Maturità classica (Lyceum).
  • 1970 University degree, Electronics Engineer, University of Genoa, Italy, specializing in the telecommunications field (laurea 110/110 cum Laude).
  • 1974 Doctorate in Physics, University of Genoa, (110/110) specializing in Biophysics (after research work at the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA).

Research Activities

  • 1970-75 Research Assistant at CNR's Laboratorio de Biofisica e Cibernetica (Genoa) carrying experimental work on membrane biophysics (using squid axons) and biological membrane modeling with lipid bilayers.
  • 1971 Lecturer of Cybernetics and Information Theory at the Physics Faculty, University of Genoa.
  • 1972 Summer Research Assistant at the Nato Saclant Research Center (La Spezia, Italy) working on computer-aided signal detection methodologies for sonar data systems.
  • 1972-74 Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Maryland) designing, developing, testing and using a fast micro-spectrophotometer for research on photoreceptors biophysics (using frog retinas).
  • 1977-80 In 1977, Dr. Malerba was chosen by the European Space Agency (ESA) as one of four European Payload Specialist Candidates for the first Spacelab mission. After this selection he became a staff member at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) of ESA Space Science Department, Space Plasma Physics Division, working in the development, testing, and qualification of ES020 - PICPAB, an experiment in Ionospheric Plasma Physics for the first Spacelab payload, flown in 1983, involving the use of accelerated charged particle beams (cooperation involved French CNRS/CRPE, Norwegian NRDE and ESTEC).

Military experience

Reserve Officer, Marina Militare. Served in 1974-75 (Sottotenente Armi Navali); was assigned to the Destroyer San Giorgio as Science Lecturer to the Naval Academy, and then to the Mariperman Technical Center in La Spezia working on ELF transmission systems.

Spaceflight experience

After selection in 1989 as a Payload Specialist by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and NASA, he became a staff member of ASI and was assigned to the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, for training. In September 1991, he was designated Prime Payload Specialist for the TSS-1 Space Shuttle mission. Malerba flew as the first Italian citizen in space on STS-46 (July 31, 1992 to August 7, 1992). He is now involved with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) manned space flight program follow-on activities.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine