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Italy's Cristoforetti takes over ISS, 1st European woman

Milanese astronaut gets symbolic key from previous Russian chief

(ANSA) - ROME, SEP 28 - Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on Wednesday became the first European woman to command the International Space Station (ISS).
    European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Cristoforetti took the helm from the previous commander, Russian Oleg Artemyev, taking a ceremonial brass key from him.
    The 45-year-old became Italy's first woman astronaut during her first mission in 2014/2015.
    She is only the fifth European commander of the ISS and the second Italian after Luca Parmitano in 2019-21.
    When the appointment was announced earlier this month, Cristoforetti said "I am humbled by my appointment to the position of commander." The Milan-born astronaut has been on the ISS since beginning her Minerva mission in April.
    "I look forward to drawing on the experience I've gained in space and on Earth to lead a very capable team in orbit." said Cristoforetti, who is in space for the second time.
    "Congratulations Samantha," said Italian Space Agency (ASI) President Giorgio Saccoccia on September 14.
    "Her appointment is a reason for special pride for Italy and Europe.
    "As the first European woman to hold the position of commander of the International Space Station, Samantha will once again be a source of inspiration for young generations". (ANSA).


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