ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti arrives at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins on 18 April 2022.
Collectively known as Crew-4, the astronauts flew in from Houston, Texas, and will spend the next week in quarantine before being launched to the International Space Station on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
When they arrive at the Station, Samantha’s Minerva mission will officially begin. This is the second long-duration space mission for Samantha who first flew to the orbital outpost in 2014 for her Italian Space Agency ASI-sponsored mission Futura.
Samantha will be welcomed on board by fellow ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and enjoy a short handover in orbit before Matthias returns to Earth in April as part of Crew-3.
Throughout her mission, Samantha will hold the role of US Orbital Segment (USOS) lead, taking responsibility for all operations within the US, European, Japanese and Canadian modules and components of the Space Station. She will support around 35 European and many more international experiments in orbit.