Samantha Cristoforetti is the new commander of the International Space Station (ISS). She is the first European woman ever to take on the role, fittingly TGCOM24, quoted by Rador.

Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian astronaut on the ISSPhoto: YouTube capture

The handover of the baton between the current commander, the Russian Oleg Artemiev, and the astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA) – the same one with whom Cristoforetti “walked” among the stars on July 22 – took place through the exchange of the brass key.

Artemiev’s traditional handing over of the keys

Since the start of her Minerva mission in April 2022, Cristoforetti has been in charge of the United States Orbital Segment (USOS): there she was tasked with overseeing activities in the US, European, Japanese and Canadian modules and components of the station.

With this new role, she will become the fifth European commander (Europe’s first woman) of the Space Station, following in the footsteps of former ESA astronauts Frank De Winne, Alexander Gerst, Luca Parmitano and Thomas Pesquet.

The full job title is International Space Station Crew Commander. Command posts are assigned based on joint decisions made by NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), Jaxa (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).

ESA is represented in this selection process by the Head of the European Astronaut Center and ISS Program Manager, Frank De Winne.

“This role is fundamental to the continued success of the Space Station,” ESA officials said.

While flight directors in control centers oversee the planning and execution of Station operations, the commander “is responsible for the work and well-being of the crew in orbit, must maintain effective communication with ground teams, and must coordinate crew actions in the event of emergency situations”.

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