In Cité de l’Espace, Thomas Pesquet admits his interest in space travel

Space, we don’t go there to please ourselves, we go there to make it as useful to people as possible. “Thomas Pesquet told the press on 3 June in Cité de l’Espace.

The French favorite astronaut arrived in Toulouse on the occasion of an unprecedented conference in front of 5,000 spectators. It was organized by Cité de l’Espace, the European Space Agency (ESA), Toulouse Métropole and CNES (National Center for Space Studies). This meeting between Thomas Pesquet and these many curious people was an opportunity to share his latest experience in microgravity during the Alpha mission.

In support of the countless images shot on the International Space Station between April and November 2021, the tenth Frenchman who went into space attempted to focus on more than 200 scientific experiments during his mission. Among them, some thanks have been made possible Instruments provided by Toulouse SMEs such as Erems or Comat.

Location: Comet will double the surface area of ​​its premises near Toulouse

“We’re just small hands.”

Thomas took the time to chat with Pesquet Park visitors who came to see him, but did not participate in the walkout game (Credit: Remy Benoit).

When asked about his favorite experiments, Thomas Pesquet admits that they have difficulty making decisions because they are so different from each other and often able to produce important scientific results in different fields. The ESA astronaut still has some interesting memories, such as when he was assigned to conduct an experiment on protein crystals.

“On Earth, proteins are very difficult to work with because they are structures that break down under their weight. This is not the case with space stations. This allows us to make larger, harder crystals that we freeze to send. Go back to the laboratory. Could target what, for example, cancer cells “Delights astronauts from Seine-Maritime.

His second example is still related to human health, but focuses more on the diversity of scientific processes.

“We had experiments on muscles. We had little worms on the space station, which apparently matched our genetic codes. The purpose was to work in the fight against myopathy. More interesting than ever “He further said.

The man, though having a career associated with science, as a graduate in aeronautical engineering, an airline pilot, or even a European record holder for how many days he spent in space, is not a researcher. He recalls that each of the experiments he conducted was under ‘surveillance’.


Thomas Pesquet spent about three hours with 5,000 spectators who came to hear him (credit: Remy Benoit).

“We have a lot of engineers who help scientists localize their protocols. We have professionals to train us to operate the tools we are going to use. We can do ultrasound, blood tests, etc. Obviously, we don’t have these skills when When we start, we have to learn. Scientists show us the way from afar, we are just small hands. After all, we try not to miss our experiments! “Those who have made a dozen of them for France laugh at him.

Due to all the experiments conducted by Thomas Pesquet during the Alpha mission, only twelve experiments were performed for France. Commissioned by ESA and CNES, they were followed by Remy Canton from Toulouse, responsible for the development of microgravity activities at Cadmos, a center dedicated to manned flights.

“The problem is finding a way to run a scientifically attractive program, but not too ambitious. The tests must be possible, both in terms of time, budget and human resources. Through these twelve tests we have been able to run a varied program: Life. Science, material science, educational exams … “Indicates one who was also responsible for the last mission of Thomas Pesquet in space for CNES.

Especially since astronauts selected by the ESA to go on missions are occasionally delayed, forcing scientists to design programs in a limited amount of time.

Ongoing experiments on earth

“Between the design of the program and its implementation, it takes between one and a half years and two years to prepare. We make sure the test works, it provides quality data that we can then collect. And not just for the duration of the astronaut’s mission. “Remy Canton recalls.

Why Thomas Pesquet officially completed his mission when he returned to Earth from November 2021.

“It’s been more than six months since I returned to Earth, and this is the post-mission phase, where we’ve handed over to scientists. We’ve definitely completed the mission with one last symbolic activity. Recently. We’ve hung our campaign plaque on the wall. “Thomas Pesquet confides in front of an audience of journalists.

As a result, the results of tests conducted by astronauts on the ISS will not be known for months or years.

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“Without any scientific results, if I take the example of the Dream headband, which is a recent tool, we have been able to notice that it has measured quality in microgravity. From there, we know that we can conduct more statistical studies.Rémi Canton takes as an example.

“The most important things for us are what prepares us for space exploration (radiation, health monitoring, etc.). From a more scientific point of view, we have neuroscience experiments that have really interesting applications for medicine. We want to develop scientific protocols that have long-term usable measurements. “The head of Cadmos explained that he had befriended Thomas Pesket while studying at ISAE-SupAero, Gallery.

Details that are sometimes difficult to understand for the general public, especially the younger ones. So ESA has expanded and reworked its temporary exhibition dedicated to what is happening in Cité de l’Espace to highlight all the occupations that astronauts have in their missions, and to explain the scientific method of sending men into space. “Currently in ISS

An interactive exhibition at Cité de l’Espace


Jean-Baptiste Desbois, General Manager of Cité de l’Espace, at the center of Cité de l’Espace Control Center (Credits: Rémi Benoit).

Animation immerses viewers in a fictional control room that tracks activities that take place on the ISS. Originally launched to cover Thomas Pesquet’s “Alpha” mission, it was eventually renewed to follow the German Matthew Maurer’s space epic (cosmic kissing mission from November 11, 2021 to May 06, 2022) and the Italian Samantha Christophoreti (Minerva mission, From 7 April., 2022 to September 2022).

“It seemed relevant to us to look outside the mission to show how the European Space Agency is involved in the International Space Station.”Comments Jean-Baptiste Desbois.


The Director General of Cité de l’Espace poses in front of one of the exhibits (Credit: Rémi Benoit).

Interactive and immersive, the exhibition was designed by ESA, CNES and the company Comat. Outside of the site staff-managed mediation, the exhibit is adaptable and therefore makes it possible to follow mission highlights and additional traffic.

Thomas Pesquet’s visit to Cité de l’Espace was therefore a good opportunity for the site to get in touch about his latest exhibit. The event was really the first time that so many spectators gathered on the same day after the health crisis. A post-Covid record that Education Park expects to beat on June 25 to mark its 25th anniversary.

These replicas of the spacecraft orbit through a unique Mars installation in Cité de l’Espace