Science | Space
He succeeds his Expedition 67 partner Oleg Artemyev, of the Russian agency Roscosmos
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti was named crew commander of the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, becoming the first European woman to hold this position. It took place as part of a traditional handover ceremony during which the previous commander hands over a symbolic key to his successor. Thus, Cristoforetti succeeded his colleague Oleg Artemyev, of the Russian agency Roscosmos, with whom he carried out his first spacewalk last July, another milestone which he also pioneered as an astronaut. European.
Before leaving his post, Artemyev took stock of his time as commander by listing some of the work carried out on the ISS during Expedition 68’s stay. In addition, he celebrated the continued international collaboration in space despite existing tensions on Earth today. “Right now, we have ten people on the Station representing three countries, which means that despite any storm on our Earth, we are continuing international cooperation,” he said.
Later, speaking to Cristoforetti, he said affectionately, “I am very proud to have worked with you Samantha and the rest of the crew. It was an unforgettable moment that will stay with us, tattooed in our hearts. Now you are also my family and wherever you are, if you feel something is wrong, call us, we will come to your aid.
For his part, Cristoforetti had only words of gratitude for the former commander: “Thank you Oleg for these words. I think I speak on behalf of our entire team in saying how much we have appreciated your leadership over the past few months, not only in terms of work, but also your human warmth, your generosity and your joy. I think you guys have really helped us grow together, not just as teammates, but as one big space family.”
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In addition, he dedicated a few words to his teammates and the recently arrived Expedition 68 astronauts who will soon be taking over on board the ISS: “I have learned from each of you every day and will continue to do it. It was also great to welcome the first crew members of Expedition 68. Welcome back to the International Space Station, it’s a pleasure and I think one of the most important tasks for us during the time we have left in orbit is to help them welcome you”.
Finally, he alluded to the ground crew: “We are just a small part of a gigantic ground crew, so thank you very much to all the crews for supporting and keeping the International Space Station going. to be an incredible laboratory. in space and a human outpost in low Earth orbit. Thank you to everyone in our respective space agencies. As an ESA astronaut, it is an honor and a privilege to represent Europe in space on the ISS, and of course, as an Italian astronaut, it is above all an honor to represent my country.”
The Italian is the fifth ESA astronaut to assume the role, following in the footsteps of European cosmonauts Frank De Winne, Alexander Gerst, Luca Parmitano and Thomas Pesquet, who have held the position in the past.
This order is granted on the basis of consensus between NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe) and CSA (Canada). Frank De Winne, head of the European Astronaut Centre, head of the ISS program and ESA representative in the selection process, said a few months ago about the appointment: “She has our full support to fulfill this important leadership role. There is no doubt that his leadership will ensure the continued success of the mission.”
The station commander is responsible for the performance and well-being of the crew in orbit, maintaining effective communication with teams on Earth, and coordinating the crew’s response to emergencies. . As Cristoforetti takes command in the final weeks of his time aboard Expedition 67, one of his primary duties will be to ensure the smooth and complete handover of ship duties to the next crew of the ship. ‘ISS.