Astronaut Esa Samantha Cristoforetti will be commander of the International Space Station for the 68th expedition. This is for her the second space mission. Never before has any other European woman been in command of the ISS. “I will humbly try to draw on the experience I have gained in space and on Earth to lead my crew of exceptional people,” she said.
“Returning to the International Space Station to represent Italy and Europe is an honor in itself,” says Samantha Cristoforetti . «The appointment to the position of commander is a further reason for professional satisfaction. I will humbly try to draw on the experience I have acquired in space and on Earth to lead my crew, made up of exceptional people ».
“Samantha’s appointment to the role of commander of the ISS is an inspiration for an entire generation that is competing to join the ESA astronaut corps,” said ESA director general Josef Aschbacher . “I’m looking forward to meeting the final candidates and I take this opportunity to once again encourage women to come forward.”
The commander selection process
Samantha will be the fifth among the ESA astronauts to command the International Space Station, and the fourth in the astronaut class of 2009.
Decisions on crew assignment and the role each astronaut plays on the Station are made by mutual agreement by the Multilateral Crew Operations Panel (Mcop), which includes representatives from all five international partners: the US space agency NASA. the Russian space agency Roscosmos, the Japanese aerospace exploration agency Jaxa, the European space agency ESA and the Canadian space agency CSA.
Astronaut Esa Frank De Winne was the first European commander of the International Space Station. He currently represents the Agency in Mcop as head of ESA’s European Astronaut Center and says that Samantha’s appointment demonstrates the value recognized by international partners for ESA astronauts.
“Although general control of the Station is entrusted to the flight directors on the ground, the commander of the Space Station works to promote team spirit among the astronauts and between the crew on board and the teams on the ground, to ensure that all can give the best of themselves ”, explains De Winne. “Samantha proved to be a highly competent and trusted leader during NASA’s Neemo23 mission, as well as in many other activities. Her experience and her way of working make her a precious resource for ESA and our partners and I am sure she will represent us well during her mission in space ».
An inspiration for new recruits
Samantha’s appointment comes at a significant time, when women and men from ESA member countries have the opportunity to participate in a selection for new astronauts . The application deadline has just been extended to June 18, 2021 , to welcome the addition of Lithuania as an associate member of ESA.
Samantha joined the ESA astronaut corps during the Agency’s latest recruitment campaign in 2008-09. David Parker , ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, says his career is an example of the opportunities available to current candidates. “Samantha joined us a little over ten years ago as a very capable rookie. She is now a space flight veteran about to take on a leadership role. “
Like many of our active astronauts, Samantha combines a challenging career and caring for her family, embracing both challenges with the full support of ESA. In recent months Samantha has often encouraged anyone who dreams of being an astronaut and meets the minimum requirements to come forward and participate in the selection ».
“I am delighted to see that Samantha’s skills, experience and hard work have been recognized with her appointment as commander of the International Space Station. I have no doubt that it will continue to inspire us to embrace new challenges and expand our capabilities and knowledge, in space or on Earth, ”concludes Parker.
Watch on MediaInaf Tv the report of last March on the return of AstroSamantha on the ISS:
Featured image: Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in the Futura mission. It will return to the Space Station in 2022. Credits: Esa / Nasa
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