Samantha Cristoforetti, Minerva MissionSamantha Cristoforetti, Futura MissionCristoforetti Samantha (Italy)

Samantha arrives in Cologne

Credits: ESA - P. Sebirot

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ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, arriving in Cologne, Germany on 15 October 2022. Samantha’s Minerva mission began on 27 April 2022, when she was launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre, USA, as part of Crew-4. While this mission was not her first to the International Space Station, it was packed full of groundbreaking moments. On 21 July, Samantha completed her first spacewalk, outfitting the European Robotic Arm alongside Oleg Artemyev. This European project is capable of ‘walking’ between locations on the Station, offering grappling, transport, and installation assistance for payloads. Beyond this activity being a personal milestone, this extravehicular activity also made her the first European woman to spacewalk. Samantha assumed the role of commander on 28 September, making her the fifth European, and first European woman, to hold the leadership position of the International Space Station. As commander, Samantha was responsible for the performance and well-being of her colleagues in space, maintaining effective communication with the teams on Earth, and coordinating crew response in case of emergencies. At the end of her mission, she assured a smooth transition between Expedition 67 and Expedition 68. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Freedom transporting Crew-4 autonomously undocked from the International Space Station and after a series of burns, entered Earth’s atmosphere and deployed parachutes for a soft water-landing. Samantha and Crew-4 splashed down on 14 October 2022 at 21:55 BST (22:55 CEST).

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