German spaceman taking command of ISS

The International Space Station is coming under European command on 3 October, with German astronaut Alexander Gerst taking the helm.

Alexander Gerst
Alexander Gerst aboard the International Space Station. Credit: ESA.

Gerst has been aboard the ISS since 8 June, and has been keeping people below on Earth entertained and amazed with accounts of what he’s been getting up to.

In the process, he has amassed more than 1.2 million Twitter followers, treating them to spectacles such as these stunning pictures of Europe lit up at night:

Gerst is an astronaut with the European Space Agency, and told ESA that taking command of the ISS was “scary at the beginning”, but something he had worked hard for and grown into.

“I am humbled and honoured to command the International Space Station,” Gerst said. “This international sign of trust reflects Europe’s reliability in space, and was made possible by the fantastic work of my European colleagues on their previous missions.”

Frank De Winne, a Belgian astronaut who commanded the ISS in 2009, told ESA that the job involves “making sure that every crew member is happy – that everyone understands their role and contributes to the best of their abilities so the team can deliver optimal performance”.

Gerst is taking control from NASA astronaut Drew Feustel and is joined on the ISS by Italian ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano. He will stay in command until he returns to Earth in December.

Words: Craig Nicholson

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