Luca Parmitano’s apologies: “My mistake to say that I knew about the virus already in November”


The phrase had impressed many. “In space we have been warned of
virus in November. Here someone lied, “the Italian ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano said during a television broadcast. Words that the Italian Air Force colonel and the first Italian to command the Iss correction on Facebook talking about “a mistake I made”.

In the episode in question, speaking of the precautions taken during the return from the International Space Station, I erroneously claimed that, as a crew, we were aware of the beginning of the pandemic infection already in November. To err is human, and I am very sorry to see that in this case my slip has been exploited. The error is due to various factors, and here are some of them.
1) on board the ISS we do not use the calendar, but the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The year starts with day 1 and ends with day 365, and events are performed according to this schedule. Consequently it is possible to confuse one month with another as we never refer to it, but we use the day UTC;
2) I remember that, around the end of the mission, we spoke with the crew of various crises going on on Earth. In rethinking the events around that period, I made confusion between the different conversations, and in remembering the events I connected the first news of contagion to a previous time context. On board, we learned about the contagion together with the rest of the world, when news agencies and major television newspapers started talking about it;
3) all of this is easily verifiable: Earth – edge – Earth communications are subject to the Freedom Of Information Act, a law that requires total transparency and that all communications are recorded. Confidential information cannot be received. Furthermore, the idea that we were already aware of a pandemic infection is contradicted by the facts: the operations for returning the expedition 61 were carried out normally, without any further precaution. On the contrary, when the pandemic situation revealed itself in all its seriousness, the crew returned from Expedition 62 was isolated in quarantine to avoid possible contagions. I apologize humbly for the error and for the (completely unexpected) consequences: I take full responsibility for it.

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