News Release

ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti receives IOF President’s Award

International Osteoporosis Foundation award recognizes unique contribution to the Lift Off For Bone Health public awareness campaign

Grant and Award Announcement

International Osteoporosis Foundation

Renowned European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has been presented with the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) President’s Award. The Award was presented during the opening ceremony of the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, in Barcelona, Spain on May 4, 2023.

The prestigious Award was given in recognition of Samantha Cristoforetti’s collaboration and outstanding support for the recent IOF ‘Lift Off for Bone Health’ public awareness campaign. The campaign has helped to amplify IOF’s messages about the importance of exercise and a bone-healthy lifestyle for osteoporosis prevention. Campaign messages have so far reached more than three million people and videos have been viewed close to two million times. As a renowned ESA astronaut with a vast global following, Samantha’s Cristoforetti participation in the campaign allowed IOF and its member societies to reach a younger global audience. Importantly, the impactful messages and videos will continue to be shared through the IOF website and YouTube channels for many years to come.

The Lift Off For Bone Health webpage is available in 10 languages, including English, French, Farsi, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian.

In presenting the Award, IOF CEO Philippe Halbout thanked Samantha Cristoforetti for her tremendous contribution on behalf of bone health awareness:

“On behalf of all of us at the International Osteoporosis Foundation, I’d like to thank Samantha Cristoforetti for her generous support and unique contributions to this successful public awareness campaign. We are also immensely grateful to the European Space Agency for facilitating this wonderful collaboration. It is vitally important that younger people, and especially younger women, take early steps for osteoporosis prevention through weight-bearing exercise and a bone-healthy diet. As an internationally recognized role model with a large global following, Samantha’s video messages have truly helped to spread awareness of the importance of strong bones and muscles."

Samantha Cristoforetti is a European Space Agency astronaut of Italian nationality. Between November 2014 and June 2015, she spent 200 days in space on a mission to the International Space Station as a Flight Engineer for Expeditions 42 and 43. During this Italian Space Agency ASI-sponsored Futura Mission, Samantha conducted experiments in the Station's laboratories. She most recently spent 170 days living and working aboard the International Space Station for her latest ESA mission, Minerva, from which she returned on 14 October 2022.

Astronauts who spend extended time in space are very few in number. Yet they have something in common with an estimated 500 million older adults worldwide – bone loss which can lead to osteoporosis. While in the microgravity environment of space, astronauts can lose on average 1% to 2% of their bone mineral density every month. As bone loss progresses, this leads to osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak and break easily, even after a minor bump or fall from a standing height. Astronauts work to counteract the effect of micro-gravity by exercising with the aid of a special machine up to two hours a day while in space. Although on earth there are a number of factors that can lead to rapid bone loss, two important factors which were highlighted in the campaign include menopause and a sedentary lifestyle.

The key take-home message highlighted in the campaign is that younger people, and especially women as they approach menopause, should be regularly active and doing load-bearing exercises to strengthen their bones and muscles. Along with bone-healthy nutrition, exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life.


About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space. ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia are Associate Members. ESA has established formal cooperation with four Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions. Learn more about ESA at

About IOF 

The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is the world's largest nongovernmental organization dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoporosis and related musculoskeletal diseases. IOF members, including committees of scientific researchers as well as more than 300 patient, medical and research organizations, work together to make fracture prevention and healthy mobility a worldwide heath care priority. @iofbonehealth

World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis & Musculoskeletal Diseases (WCO-IOF-ESCEO Barcelona 2023)

Held jointly by IOF and ESCEO, the Congress takes place in Barcelona, Spain from May 4-7, 2023. WCO-IOF-ESCEO is the world’s largest annual forum for the presentation of clinical research and new advances in the prevention and management of bone, muscle and joint disorders, including sarcopenia and frailty. For complete information visit  #OsteoCongress

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