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Third European commander for ISS
Luca Parmitano. © ESA/NASA

Third European commander for ISS

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano will be commander of the International Space Station during the second part of his mission next year, when he flies to the ISS for a second time.

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano will be commander of the International Space Station during the second part of his mission next year, when he flies to the orbital outpost for a second time.

Luca was the first of ESA’s astronauts selected in 2009 to fly to the Space Station in 2013 and stayed for 166 days. On his Volare mission Luca conducted two spacewalks — including one that was terminated prematurely following a near-catastrophic water leak in his spacesuit.

Parmitano commented: “I see myself as a facilitator, my goal will be to put everybody in the condition to perform to the best of their capability. Ultimately, though, I am responsible for the safety of the crew and the Station, and for overall mission success.”

The Italian is currently training in Russia on the Soyuz spacecraft that will launch him into space alongside NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Roscosmos astronaut Alexander Skvortsov.

The trio will be part of Expeditions 60/61 on the Space Station. It is the first time that an Italian astronaut will be commander of the Space Station and only the third time for an ESA astronaut in its 18 years of operation.

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst of Germany is set to take up duties as Space Station commander during the second half of his Horizons mission this year. Belgium's Frank De Winne became the first European commander of the ISS in 2009.

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