ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will soon become commander of the International Space Station, taking over from fellow Expedition 67 crew member Oleg Artemyev.
Upon taking her new role, she will become the fifth European commander of the Space Station, following in the footsteps of previous ESA astronauts Frank De Winne, Alexander Gerst, Thomas Pesquet, and fellow Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano. She will also become the first European female to occupy the position.
“I am honored by my appointment as commander,” Cristoforetti says. “I look forward to drawing on the experience I have gained in space and on Earth to lead a very capable team in orbit.“
The handover, ESA informs, is scheduled for September 28. Samantha Cristoforetti’s time in command will be brief. As commander of the Space Station, she will be responsible for the performance and well-being of the crew on orbit, maintaining effective communication with the teams on Earth, and coordinating the crew response in case of emergencies.
ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher commented: “Samantha Cristoforetti’s selection for commandership demonstrates the faith and value our international partners place in ESA astronauts.”
“Congratulations to Samantha. Her appointment is a reason for special pride for Italy and Europe. As the first European woman to serve as commander of the International Space Station, Samantha will once again be an inspiration to the younger generation. A post of such value entrusted for the second time to an astronaut of Italian nationality is also a confirmation of the role and importance of our country in space exploration and international space activities,” said the President of the Italian Space Agency, Giorgio Saccoccia.
The Minerva mission, Samantha Cristoforetti’s second mission to the ISS after the Futura mission in 2014, began on April 27, 2022, with the liftoff of Crew-4 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Since then, Cristoforetti has taken part in intense scientific activity, working on several experiments on health, neuroscience, radiation, and nutrition.
Since beginning her Minerva mission in April 2022, Samantha has served as lead of the United States Orbital Segment (USOS), overseeing activities in the US, European, Japanese and Canadian modules and components of the Station.
On July 21, 2022, Cristoforetti had also completed her first spacewalk, becoming the first European woman to perform an extravehicular activity in space.