COLOGNE, Germany (Reuters) - Astronaut Alexander Gerst will become the first German and only the second European to take command of the International Space Station, the European Space Agency said on Wednesday.
Gerst, 40, previously worked on the ISS in 2014. He will take command during the second part of his six-month mission in 2018. Born in Kuenzelsau, south-east of Frankfurt, he said he was humbled to command the station.
"When one looks down on the planet from space, that is a very special thing," Gerst told a news conference after being congratulated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Eleven European countries participate in the Station through the European Space Agency, together with the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada.
In the 15 years the space station has been occupied, Belgian Frank De Winne was the only European to command it before Gerst, in 2009.
(Reporting by Reuters TV and Paul Carrel, editing by Larry King)