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Samantha Cristoforetti Is First European Woman to Command ISS


Cristoforetti has been the leader of the United States Orbital Segment since April 2022.

Cristoforetti has been the leader of the United States Orbital Segment since April 2022.
Photo: ESA/NASA

After making the first TikTok video while aboard the International Space Station, Samantha Cristoforetti is making history once again as she’s been chosen to command the orbital outpost, making her the first European woman to do so.

The European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut launched to the ISS on April 27, 2022, where she has served as lead of the US Orbital Segment. But now she’s ready to take on a bigger role, serving as the commander of the ISS. “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,” Cristoforetti said in a statement.

Cristoforetti will officially take on the role of commander during an ISS ceremony scheduled for September 28. Upon receiving a symbolic key from fellow Expedition 67 crew member Oleg Artemyev, Cristoforetti will become the fifth European commander of the space station and the first European woman commander. The ceremony will be broadcast live and you’ll be able to tune in at ESA’s Web TV.

The TikTok-famous astronaut first traveled to space in 2014 where she spent 199 days on the ISS, breaking the record for the longest mission in space by a woman at the time (that record was broken by Peggy Whitson in 2017, and then again by Christina Koch in 2019). Cristoferetti returned to the ISS earlier this year, where the amiable astronaut has been sharing her orbital experiences via social media.

Cristoferetti shared her first TikTok on May 5 while floating in the microgravity environment. Since then, she’s been chronicling her everyday life aboard the orbital outpost, including bedtime, when she zips herself up tight in a sleeping bag, or when she’s doing a hardcore space-based workout routine. She’s even posted TikToks while using the ISS toilet. Her fans are loving it, with Cristoferetti’s videos racking up millions of views on TikTok.

When she’s not making viral videos, Cristoferetti is putting in work on the ISS during 12-hour shifts, overseeing the activities in the U.S., European, Japanese, and Canadian modules and components of the station. “Samantha’s wealth of knowledge and experience makes her an excellent candidate for this role,” David Parker, ESA’s director of Human and Robotic Exploration, said in a statement. As the first European woman to fulfil the position of commander, she once again pushes forward boundaries for female representation in the space sector.”

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