The European Space Agency has confirmed that the Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will be the first European woman to command the International Space Station.
She enters a rare club: fewer than 600 astronauts have travelled in space and only about ten percent of them have been women.
Cristoforetti is affectionately known in her home country as ‘AstroSamantha’ or “AstroSam”.
She was the first Italian woman in space and only the third woman in the world to have spent time on the station.
And at 199 days and 16 hours, Cristoforetti also holds the record for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight by a European astronaut.
America’s NASA, Russia’s Roscosmos, Japan’s JAXA, Canada’s CSA and the European Space Agency decide by consensus which astronaut will lead the station.