French astronaut Thomas Pesquet will become the first French person, and only third European, to be an International Space Station (ISS) commander when he travels to space in April.
The European Space Agency announced on March 16 that Mr Pesquet, 43, would take on the role after being launched to the ISS on American space capsule SpaceX Crew Dragon.
It said: “the commander of the space station is responsible for daily management, organising the team’s work and takes decisions in emergency situations – even though the whole team has been highly trained and knows what to do.”
Take off is planned for April 22, and Mr Pesquet will leave Europe this week to begin final preparations at the Johnson Space Centre in Texas, United States.
How I feel just five weeks from launch day . Last week in Europe and so much still to do. Must remember to turn off the lights and pay the bills before I leave! pic.twitter.com/fDcRAARQic— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) March 18, 2021
Mr Pesquet, who was born in Rouen, is expected to spend six months on the ISS as station commander.
In a message on Twitter he said that he was “honoured and happy” to have been offered the role.
This will be Mr Pesquet’s second space mission.
Name French astronaut's next ISS mission