Samantha Cristoforetti inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) stowing the cargo
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has assumed the role of commander on the International Space Station.
She is the first woman from Europe to hold the position.
By handing over a symbolic key, Cristoforetti succeeded the Russian astronaut Oleg Artemyev.
The Italian follows in the footsteps of four previous European commanders, including German astronaut Alexander Gerst.
As commander, Cristoforetti must ensure, among other things, that the crew sticks together and that cooperation with colleagues on Earth works well.
In the handover ceremony, broadcast directly from the space station, Cristoforetti thanked her predecessor and the team she has been working with there for months.
According to Esa, Cristoforetti will also prepare the handover to the next team of astronauts on the ISS.
The Italian has been on the ISS for the second time since the end of April as part of the Minevera mission.
There she oversees European and international experiments on medical and material science issues, among other things.
The fact that Cristoforetti takes over as commander is not the first premiere for her: the 45-year-old is the first Italian woman in space.
In addition, she became the first European woman to leave the International Space Station ISS for an outdoor assignment lasting several hours.
Pictures from the US space agency Nasa showed how the Italian went for a walk in space together with her Russian colleague Oleg Artemyev.
The former air force pilot has also been the record holder since her first ISS mission from 2014 to 2015: At that time she spent almost 200 days in space and is therefore, according to Esa, the woman who has stayed in space for the longest time without interruption.
Cristoforetti left for her second mission on the ISS in April.
Before her departure to the ISS - a few weeks after Russia attacked Ukraine - Cristoforetti spoke to SPIEGEL.
"I think we're just not going to raise the issue of Ukraine," she said at the time.
“We've got a job to do up there.
It's always been the case that there hasn't been much discussion of politics on the space station."