Alexander Gerst Appointed as First International Space Station Commander from Germany

Alexander Gerst and Angela Merkel at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne.

The German astronaut Alexander Gerst has spent more than 166 days in space and has returned to the International Space Station for a second mission, Horizons — and it’s one with added responsibilities. His first time was for the Blue Dot mission, when he spent six months between May and November 2014 at the International Space Station (ISS).

His training started in March 2016 — before it was even decided that Gerst would take command of the ISS and become the first German astronaut to do so.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was significant to have “a man like Alexander Gerst” as our “ambassador” in space.

But what exactly does an International Space Station Commander do? Find out more on Deutsche Welle.