After six months on the International Space Station and just over four as commander, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano will hand the leading role to Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, today before departing the Station in the early hours of 6 February 2020.

Luca was the third European in command of the Space Station, after ESA astronauts Alexander Gerst in 2018 and Frank De Winne in 2009. He was also the first ever Italian commander.

The change of command will occur during a short ceremony in which Luca will hand a symbolic hatch key to Oleg and a bell will be rung indicating the start of Expedition 62.

Watch the change of command ceremony live on NASA TV from 14:40 CET (13:40 GMT) Wednesday 5 February.

Luca’s time in command

‘Beyond’ is Luca’s second International Space Station mission.

While in command of the Station, he held the lead role of EV1 in the first three of four complex spacewalks to maintain the cosmic ray detecting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer AMS-02. This was the first time a European astronaut had ever done so. During this spacewalk series he also surpassed ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang’s European record for the longest cumulative spacewalk by one hour and three minutes. Luca has now spent a total 33 hours and 9 minutes spacewalking over the course of six EVAs.

The AMS spacewalks were considered even more challenging than those to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, as the bus-sized instrument was never designed to be serviced in orbit. The spacewalks were four years in the planning, and required the development of new procedures as well as more than 20 new tools.

In addition to these spacewalks, Luca supported over 50 European experiments in orbit, including Analog-1 in which he controlled a rock-collecting rover in the Netherlands, from space.

Find out more about Luca and his second space mission in the Beyond brochure – available to download in English and Italian – as well as Beyond mission podcast, ESA Explores, and the Beyond playlist over on YouTube.

See how it began in the below replay of Luca accepting command of the International Space Station from Russian Cosmonaut Aleksei Ovtchinin on 2 October 2019.