This is the second astronaut mission of an Italian astronaut to be part of a banned club of space travelers with less than 600 members. If we look only at the female gender, it would be even higher, which is only about 10% of the total number.
Samantha Cristoboretti joined the ESA Corporation during the 2008/9 candidacy campaign – the most recent to date – and returned to Earth for the first time in 2014 in a Russian Soyuz vehicle for the ASI “Futura” mission at ISS, after 200 days in space.
During the Futura mission, the Italian astronaut supported a comprehensive scientific program of physics, biology and human physiology, as well as radiation experiments and technical demonstrations.
He also oversaw the dismantling of ISA’s fifth and final automated transmission vehicle (ATV), which marks the end of a successful project that paved the way for European service modules, currently being prepared for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, to orbit the moon.
Now, according to the announcement, Samantha Cristoboretti will fly aboard the International Space Station in 2022 as Commander of Expedition 68A, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.
“It is a great honor for me to return to the International Space Station to represent Europe,” said Samantha Christoporetti. Quoted by ESA. “I am humbly grateful for my appointment to the rank of Commander, and hope to lead the most talented team in orbit using the experience I have gained in space and on Earth.”
ISS Decisions on the role of each astronaut will be taken by the Multi-Group Task Force (MCOP), which consists of representatives of five international partners: ISA, NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), Jaxa (Japan) and CSA. (Canada).