Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will soon be the commander of the International Space Station (ISS) says the European Space Agency (ESA).
Cristoforetti will take the helm from the current commander, Russian Oleg Artemyev. She will be the first European woman to hold this position.
“I am humbled by my appointment to the position of commander,” Cristoferetti said. Samantha has been on the ISS since beginning her Minerva mission in April.
“I look forward to drawing on the experience I’ve gained in space and on Earth to lead a very capable team in orbit.” Cristoforetti, who is in space for the second time, will officially become commander following a traditional handover ceremony. It centres around the symbolic passing of a key from the previous commander on 28 September.
She will be only the fifth European commander of the ISS and the second Italian after Luca Parmitano in 2019-21.
“Congratulations Samantha,” said Italian Space Agency (ASI) President Giorgio Saccoccia. “Her appointment is a reason for special pride for Italy and Europe. As the first European woman to hold the position of commander of the International Space Station, Samantha will once again be a source of inspiration for young generations”.
The 45-year-old became Italy’s first woman astronaut during her first mission in 2014/2015.