Next year ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is returning to the International Space Station for his second mission and he will be acting as commander of the weightless research outpost during the second part of his flight.
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 and collected data for many experiments that are still running today.
Luca commented on the news: “I am honoured that the Space Station programme chose me for this role, and at the same time I am humbled by the task.”
“Being the commander of the most trained and proficient people on and off Earth can be daunting,” continues Luca, “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.”
“I have been lucky enough, in my experience, to work with leaders whom I could look up to: I will do my best to follow their example and mentorship to achieve those goals” concludes Luca.
The Italian astronaut is preparing for his second trip into space by running through simulations and training with the new experiments that he will take part in. He is now 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 is set to take up duties as Space Station commander during the second half of his Horizons mission this year.
“With two ESA astronauts set to run the Space Station as commander in one year, it is a great time for European spaceflight and an example of the international character of our collaboration in space”, says ESA’s director of human and robotic exploration David Parker.
“I am proud of the excellent work done by the astronauts and their trainers to be given the responsibility of humanity’s outpost in space.”
Circling our planet at 28 800 km/h the International Space Station offers space for six astronauts to conduct experiments for researchers all over the world in weightlessness as well as test and demonstrate techniques needed to further explore our Solar System.
Europe’s laboratory Columbus was launched 10 years ago this year and over 200 experiments have been done inside. Columbus houses as many disciplines as possible in a small volume, from astrobiology to solar science through metallurgy and psychology. Countless papers have been published drawing conclusions from experiments performed in Columbus, and Luca will continue the research during his mission.
Follow Luca as he prepares for the mission via lucaparmitano.esa.int.