European Space Agency’s astronaut Luca Parmitano will be the third European and first Italian to take charge of the International Space Station after an official change of command ceremony scheduled for October 2, 2019. He will take charge from Russian counterpart Alexei Ovchinin. This is the second mission in space for Luca known as Beyond which also is start of Expedition 61. The live relay of the change of command ceremony will be shown on NASA television this week.
The complete title of Luca in this new role will be International Space Station crew commander. Though the overall command of the ISS is with flight director based on earth unless there is an emergency, the role of new commander is important to the mission’s success. As an ESA astronaut and head of ESA astronaut center in Cologne, Germany, Frank De Winne was first European to be appointed to the commanding role. This was when he was on OasISS mission during 2009 and his tenure was followed by Alexander Gerst, another ESA astronaut who held the post till second part of Horizons mission.
Frank told that ISS crew commander position holds responsibility for both crew morale and well- being. They have to ensure that crew members perform the assigned tasks during their space sojourn. He is confident that Luca will do a great job and the appointment of two ESA commanders in succession speaks volumes about Europe’s reputation as a trusted partner. Luca expressed pride in the appointment saying that he felt honored and humbled to be chosen for the role. The position of commander to most proficient people both on and off the earth is pretty daunting, said Luca. He takes command during one of the busiest times aboard the ISS as several spacewalks are scheduled for November.