From September 28, 2022, Samantha Cristoforetti will take command of the International Space Station. This is the first time that a European female astronaut will occupy this role.
For the first time on the International Space Station (ISS), a European astronaut will occupy the post of commander. The European Space Agency (ESA) has formalized the news on September 14, 2022: the Italian Samantha Cristoforetti will ensure ISS Command from Wednesday 28 September.
Samantha Cristoforetti will then take over from Oleg Artemyev, Russian cosmonaut who has commanded the ISS since the end of April. This is not the first time that an ESA astronaut has taken the reins of the station. Thomas Pesquet became the first French commander of the ISS in 2021. Before him, other European astronauts had had this role. The first of these was the Belgian Frank de Winne, in 2009. To date, five European astronauts have commanded the ISS. With Samantha Cristoforetti, it will be the very first time that a European female astronaut will hold this position.
The Italian astronaut will manage the handover with the following crew
Samantha Cristoforetti is currently carrying out a mission called Minerva, on board the station since April 2022. She is responsible for the operations of the American Orbital Segment (USOS), recalls the ESA. Soon, she will also be, according to the official designation, “Crew Commander of the International Space Station”. In July 2021, she had already distinguished herself in becoming the first European astronaut to step out of the ISS.
To become commander of the ISS, the Italian astronaut will undergo a traditional handover ceremony, during which Oleg Artemiev will give her a symbolic key. The event is expected to be broadcast live from the station on web TV from ESA on September 28.
What does the commander of the ISS do? As the ESA reminds us, this person is then ” responsible for the performance and welfare of the crew in orbit, maintaining effective communication with teams on Earth, and coordinating emergency response “. Samantha Cristoforetti will assume her role during the last weeks of her mission in the station: it will therefore be up to her to manage the handover with the next crew.