Italian, first European to command the space station


Since the start of her Minerva mission in April 2022, Samantha Cristoforetti He has served as the United States Orbital Segment (USOS) Officer, overseeing activities on the US, European, Japanese, and Canadian modules and components of the International Space Station.
When he takes up his new role, he will become the fifth European Space Station Commander, following in the footsteps of former ESA astronauts Frank De Winne, Alexander Gerst, Luca Parmitano and Thomas Pesquet. She will also be the first European woman to serve on the ISS.
“I am very honored by my appointment as commander,” says Samantha, “and I look forward to using the experience I have gained in space and on Earth to lead a highly qualified team in orbit.”

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher shares Samantha’s perspective. “Samantha’s selection to the position of Commander clearly demonstrates the faith and value that our international partners place in ESA astronauts. Throughout her Minerva mission, Samantha has contributed significantly to the Station’s scientific and operational successes, and I anticipate that the Station will continue to thrive under her command.”

Samantha will officially become Commander following a traditional handover ceremony that revolves around the symbolic handing over of a key by the previous Commander. The actual ceremony will take place on Wednesday 28 September and will be broadcast live from the International Space Station via ESA Web TV.

David Parker, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA, shared his opinion that “Samantha’s wealth of knowledge and experience makes her an excellent candidate for this position.”

“As the first European woman to hold the position of commander, she once again pushes the boundaries of female representation in the space sector,” he added.
The full title of this position is “Crew Commander of the International Space Station.” This command is granted based on joint decisions made by NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe) and CSA (Canada).

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