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European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from Italy will become commander of the International Space Station (ISS) at the end of September, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced on its website.

She will take over from Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemiev, with whom she has been aboard the ISS since spring.

Artemiev arrived on board the station on March 18 together with two more cosmonauts, and Cristoforetti - on April 28, with three American astronauts, Darik adds. 

From the start of his Minerva mission in April 2022, Cristoforetti leads the Americas segment of the ISS and oversees the activities of the US, EU, Japan and Canada modules and components of the station.

When she takes over the ISS from Artemiev, she will be the fifth European in command of the ISS and the first European female astronaut in the post.

The first European commander of the ISS was Frank de Vigne, who now heads the European Astronaut Center and is the program manager for the ISS.

The other European astronauts who have served as ISS commanders are Alexander Gerst, Luca Parmitano and Tommaso Peske.

Back in May of last year, the ISS partners decided that Cristoforetti would take over at the end of his Minerva mission.

The rotation of ISS commanders is jointly determined by partners from NASA, Roscosmos, the Japan Space Agency, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency.

In the commission for the selection of commanders, ESA is represented by Frank de Vigne.

The selection of Samantha as commander clearly shows the trust and high evaluation that international partners give to European astronauts, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher was quoted as saying by the agency's press service.

"Through the Minerva mission, she contributes greatly to the scientific and operational success of the ISS, and I expect the project to continue to develop successfully under her command," he added.

The station commander is responsible for the performance and well-being of the crew in orbit, maintains effective communication with teams on Earth, and coordinates crew actions in emergency situations.

Cristoforetti will take command in the final weeks of her space mission, and one of her primary duties will be to ensure a smooth and stable handover of the station to the next crew.

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Cristoforetti will officially become the commander of the ISS in a ceremony where Artemiev will symbolically hand her the key to the station.

The ceremony is scheduled for September 28.


Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will become the first European woman to command the International Space Station.

We are very proud of you AstroSam!

— Argotec (@Argotec_Space) September 14, 2022

international space station