Exchange of the brass key and handover in command of the International Space Station between the Russian astronaut Oleg Artemyev and a smiling Samantha Cristoforetti .

" Thank you very much to Italy and to all the Italians who have always supported and followed me in this mission with affection", said AstroSamantha after greeting and thanking the colleagues aboard the Space Station, the control center on Earth and the space agencies partner of the Iss. "It is a privilege and an honor to represent Italy here in space. If I am here today it is thanks to the great commitment that our country has achieved and still achieves in the space field", he added.

A blue shirt, gray pants and long hair, Cristoforetti stressed that he appreciated Artemyev's leadership in recent months and his generosity.

"I wish you a good return to Earth in the next few hours", he said, addressing Artemyev and his crewmates, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov, whose journey with the Soyuz is scheduled for tomorrow at 9 am Italian.

"It is a pleasure and honor to stay with you and continue to work with you," she then said, addressing her colleagues from Crew 4, who arrived with her on the Space Station.

" Commander ", the departing and arriving crewmates called her, then the applause, the hugs and the traditional ringing of the bell that marked the conclusion of the ceremony.

Just in the past few hours, the Italian astronaut had paid a splendid tribute to Sardinia by spreading some images of the island taken from the Space Station.

(Unioneonline / vl)

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