Updated September 29th, 2022 at 17:13 IST

International Space Station gets 1st female European commander in Samantha Christoforetti

The International Space Station will now be commanded by ESA's Samantha Christoforetti, who is also the first European woman as a commander.

Reported by: Harsh Vardhan
Image: ESA | Image:self

Italian astronaut Samantha Christoforetti was handed over the commandership of the International Space Station (ISS) earlier today, making her the first European woman to assume the position. Christoforetti, who represents the European Space Agency (ESA) took over the charge of ISS commander from Oleg Artemyev during a traditional handover ceremony that centres around the symbolic passing of a key from the previous commander.

Christoforetti was appointed as the new leader as Artemyev made his return to Earth after a six-month-long stay aboard the ISS. He was accompanied by fellow cosmonauts Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov who left the orbital outpost at 1:04 pm IST and landed in Kazakhstan at 4:27 pm on September 29. Following the trio's arrival, the ISS now has seven residents, four of which will vacate the space station for the next batch of astronauts. 

Among these four astronauts is Christoforetti, who was part of the Crew-4 mission, which was launched in April this year. The Crew-4 team, which along with Artemyev and his crewmates comprised the Expedition 67 group, will make room for the Crew-5 astronauts who are slated for launch on October 4. Meanwhile, in the final weeks of her stay, Christoforetti will responsible to ensure a smooth and comprehensive handover to the next expedition crew.

"I am humbled by my appointment to the position of commander and look forward to drawing on the experience I’ve gained in space and on Earth to lead a very capable team in orbit", the astronaut said in an official statement. ESA explains that commanderships are awarded based on joint decisions taken by agencies of the member states namely NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).

The Crew-5 mission

NASA, on September 27, announced that it is targeting the launch of Crew-5 no earlier than 9:53 pm IST on October 4. The mission, which will be launched by SpaceX, was delayed by a day due to the devastating Hurricane Ian which made landfall in Florida. The members of Crew-5 include NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina. Notably, Kikina will become the first Russian to ride a commercial US spacecraft i.e. SpaceX's Endurance capsule. 


Published September 29th, 2022 at 17:13 IST