French astronaut Thomas Pesquet takes over command of ISS for a month
Astronaut Thomas Pesquet is to take over the command of the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday 4 October, the first time a French person has done so. He'll be in charge of a six-member crew until his Alpha mission ends in November.
Pesquet becomes the 53rd astronaut to hold the rotating role of ISS commander, the fourth European and the first French national.
The American William Shepherd was the first to have held the role in 2000.
Pesquet will head up a team of astronauts: three Americans, two Russians and a Japanese currently on board the ISS.
The commander doesn't pilot the station, but is in charge of maintaining communications between the crew and the flight director, who is based on Earth. The commander oversees that the team gets along, and gets their scientific jobs done.
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In the case of an emergency, the commander has full authority to make decisions without waiting for ground control to intervene.
In 21 years of orbit, the ISS has never experienced any serious accidents.
Russian film crew
Meanwhile, under Thomas Pesquet's command, the ISS team will experience another bit of on-board excitement with the imminent arrival of a Russian film crew.
Russia's space agency Roscosmos is dispatching 36-year-old actress Yulia Peresild along with director Klim Shipenko on 5 October.
The 12-day mission was announced in September last year, four months after a Hollywood project involving actor Tom Cruise was unveiled.
Shipenko said the movie would be a "dramatic film" about a doctor who goes to the ISS to save a cosmonaut's life.
Mission commander Anton Shkaplerov, as well as cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov who are currently on board the station, will also appear in the film, he added.
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