“Space remains the new frontier”

Paris Match is dedicating its cover to astronaut Thomas Pesquet who captured him within a few days before the big departure. Excerpts.

It will begin with three astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon shuttle on April 22. At 43 Thomas Pesquet He is preparing to depart on his second mission to the International Space Station, which he will partially command. Six months to prepare for the future on the moon or on Mars, but also to learn how to live better in the present, on Earth. The last secrets before take off.

Paris Match. In skydiving we say that the second jump is the scariest, because we know what to expect. Is this your state of mind before you return to space?
Thomas Pesquet. exactly! The first time we go there with a gun. On D-Day, we get into the rocket, take off, and in fact, it’s a little scary! But it’s too late … too quickly, excitement and focus take over. Even if we feel anxious sometimes, even if it hurts, we are working. The tasks are related and we must reach the end. The second time around, on the other hand, we know exactly when and where it will be scary. Suddenly, we head towards launch date with minimal indifference. But the experience is also not bad … since my first assignment, I have been in great demand. The danger is that you lose sight of your daily trained bread. You must manage not to deviate from your priorities. It took me a while. But last year, I was very focused on the Alpha mission. I am also trying to take advantage of it. The first time, I hurriedly put my head on the steering wheel: until the missile went off. This time, I realized how training would remain one of the funnest moments of my life. I would miss her if I had to not do it again. Ultimately, I am calmer and try to give my opinion more. When asked to follow a certain procedure, I can answer that sometimes things are done differently on the space station. I also listen more to …

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The European Space Agency has negotiated three seats with NASA for Artemis’ future mission to the Moon. Does this make you dream?
Of course ! My class of astronauts is the first not born at the time of the Apollo moon landing. The moon is not something to remake. It is a new destination that we want to go to in a sustainable way, to settle there, to make it a scientific base, to use local resources. To make fuel and liquid water. The station orbiting the moon would be a kind of refueling station. It is no coincidence that we are trying to recruit new astronauts. It is time to use our expertise on the International Space Station, both technical and human, to look towards the moon. The next generation will follow in our footsteps. After all, she might be the one to go to Mars.

We’ve never seen a lot of TV shows in space [“For all Mankind”, “L’étoffe des héros”, “Mars”]And you are one of the French’s favorite characters: Are we at the dawn of a space frenzy as powerful as the 1960s? To what extent do you think you participated in France?
I am not the first to serve on a long-term mission. Jean-Pierre Henery spent six months at Mir Station. It was then, however, that we saw a foggy takeoff in the plains of Kazakhstan. Then, from time to time, a radio message popped up in the news, filled with crackling noises. Six months later it’s over. Nobody really understood what it was about. Now, on social networks, we have the means to explain, show, and inform. It makes a very big difference. I also think people need to get away from it all. On Earth, we have a feeling that civilized life has spread everywhere, and that everything is united. McDonald’s, the Netflix chain … space remains the new frontier. Man is an animal of emotions. He needs to dream, to vibrate for something beyond him. Space meets this requirement to some extent. When you communicate directly from “there,” people feel that they are part of the adventure. This is much better.

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Find the big interview with Thomas Pesquet at # 3753 of Paris Match

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