MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to award European Space Agency (ESA) astronauts Andre Kuipers (the Netherlands) and Roberto Vittori (Italy) the Order of Friendship and the Medal “For Merit in Space Exploration,” accordingly.
The document, dated February 9, 2013, was published on Russia’s official legal information website, where laws, parliamentary acts and presidential decrees are displayed.
The awards were bestowed for “great contribution to the development of international space cooperation and the strengthening of friendship between nations.”
Kuipers, born on October 5, 1958, flew to the International Space Station (ISS) twice - in April 2004, together with Russian Space Agency Roscosmos cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and NASA astronaut Michael Fincke, and in 2011 to 2012, together with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and NASA astronaut Donald Pettit.
Vittori, born in October of 1964, flew to the ISS three times: in April to May 2002 and in April 2005 - both times on board the Soyuz spacecraft - and in May to June 2011 on board Space Shuttle Endeavour.