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Being a commander does not mean giving orders, but finding solutions, also knowing how to step aside to allow more competent people to express themselves at their best. This is the idea of leadership that Samantha Cristoforetti will bring into orbit when in 2022 it will the first European woman (and the third in the world) to fill the role of commander of the International Space Station (Iss), supported by the family who will look after her two children during the mission.
She tells it herself during her first public event after her appointment, a live stream on the European Space Agency (ESA) web TV together with ESA’s Director of Human and Robotics Exploration, David Parker. “I am honored, I feel full responsibility for this leadership role”, says AstroSamantha in connection from the ESA astronaut center in Cologne: being commander “does not mean giving orders, but being a facilitator”, to better coordinate teamwork and make sure that “every problem can be solved”.
Well aware of being put in charge of a very high level crew, remember that “a good leader understands if he is not the most competent person on a given issue and knows how to take a step back to make room for those who are more competent, but this does not mean abdicating the leadership role: in the end you always remain responsible, but you know that at that specific moment another person knows more than you do. ‘
Samantha Cristoforetti during the live streaming – Photo Ansa © www.giornaledibrescia.it
The astronaut will be in Starcity, Russia in a week, to continue his training which also includes simulations of emergency situations to prepare for any scenario, from the fire on board to the depressurization of the cabin: “all things that hopefully will not happen never in orbit », he says smiling.
Compared to the first Futura mission seven years ago, which saw it arrive in orbit aboard the well-known Soyuz, this time “I will fly with the shuttle Crew Dragon which is something totally new, even if it requires less training because it is more automated ». There will be four people on board instead of three: this means that the crew on the ISS will go up from six to seven people and will require more coordination. The details of the scientific experiments that Samantha will lead into orbit, but says she is already enthusiastic, because “it’s like putting the icing on the cake of years of work by many researchers”. There will likely be an upgrade of the European Columbus module to be able to do more scientific research and the first microgravity metal 3D printer will be installed.
AstroSamantha will be able to work with the mind free from mom’s worries, because he knows that he will be able to count on the full support of his family in looking after his two children. “When I left for my first mission,” seven years ago, “I still had no children and everything was easier,” admits Cristoforetti. “I now have two children and this is a fact that I must consider and worry about. Like all astronauts, I can say that we manage to do this amazing job because we have the full support of our amazing families. I can do it too because I know my children are well looked after and in good hands. This means that my partner and my family make sacrifices to make my dream come true and for this I am incredibly grateful ».
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