AstroSamantha has taken the lead of the “cosmic house”, taking over from Oleg Artemyev, the Russian cosmonaut from the Expedition 67 mission and becoming the first Italian and European female astronaut in charge of the Station. Samantha assumed command after a traditional handover ceremony, focused on the symbolic passage of a key by her predecessor. Cristoforetti follows the footsteps of four other European commanders, the ESA astronauts Frank De Winne, Alexander Gerst, Luca Parmitano and Thomas Pesquet.
The president of the Italian Space Agency, Giorgio Saccoccia, followed the event from the Auditorium of the ASI headquarters.
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“Samantha is the second Italian commander of the ISS, after Luca Parmitano – said Saccoccia – and we are proud of this record. With the Artemis program, we are looking at the Moon, and Italy is contributing to it because we strongly believe that exploration, as well as the other space sectors, represents an opportunity to generate a strong economic return and for the growth of our country”.
“Thanks to Italy and all the Italians who have always supported and followed me in this mission with affection - said Cristoforetti -, it’s a privilege and an honor to represent Italy here in space. If I’m here today, it is thanks to the great commitment and the excellent results that our country has obtained and still obtains in the space sector”.
Minerva, Cristoforetti’s second mission on the Iss after the ASI Futura mission in 2014, started on April 27th, 2022, with the liftoff of the Crew-4 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. From that moment on, AstroSamantha has been participating in an intense scientific activity and working on several experiments, including six Italian Space Agency experiments in different fields: health, neuroscience, radiations and feeding.
Since the start of the Minerva mission, Samantha has been in charge of the United States Orbital Segment (USOS), monitoring the activity in the U.S., European, Japanese and Canadian modules and components of the Station.
Last July 21st, Cristoforetti also completed her first spacewalk, becoming the first European female astronaut to perform an extravehicular activity. This record will be soon accompanied by the command of the space house, a role that will start today.
Credits for the opening photo: NASA-ESA