40 years ago, the first French in space (1/2)

Part 1: The union of the bear and the rooster

Since the creation of the Cnes in December 1961, France has been pursuing its own space policy in the service of greatness and freedom. However, financial and technical means are not the two superpowers, CNS officials relying on cooperation with the Soviet ideological enemy …

A favorable but subtle context

The Franco-Soviet space cooperation, as desired by General de Gaulle, was established “for peaceful purposes” through the Moscow Agreement signed on June 30, 1966. This collaboration was then carried out through a commission formed under the auspices of CNS and Intercosmos (Soviet Academy of Sciences). International Cooperation Committee in Space). In the first half of the 1960’s, when the Soviets and the Americans settled permanently in Earth orbit via orbital stations (Salute and Skylab), French scientists became interested in manned flights. In 1974, the question was raised during the Cnes-Intercosmos meeting. To follow up and discuss the case …

Meanwhile, the Americans are building their space shuttle fleet and offering their allies participation in their next manned flight. For this, the ESA (European Space Agency) hired astronauts in 1977… but no French citizen was selected. French frustration could not escape the Soviet authorities who, during the visit of French President Valerie Gescard d’Estein to Moscow on April 26-28, 1979, proposed a Franco-Soviet human flight. Since De Gaulle’s visit in June 1966, 34 joint experiments have already been carried out, which have been set up in Soviet machines to study astronomy and solar physics, geophysics, biology and physics. Also, three French satellites were put into orbit by Soviet launchers (Signe 3, Sret 1 and 2).

However, 1979 is also the year of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan … If this new agreement does not call into question the agreement, it still leaves the French authorities in a certain embarrassment. From a geopolitical point of view, the first Franco-Soviet flight was then shown as a “scientific flight” consistent with the philosophy of the 1966 agreement. Interested in incorporating high-level scientific experiments, Cnes began in the summer of 1979. Tender for scientific examination.

Recruitment and training

… Although the Mission Agreement – called PVH (“First Human Flight”) – was officially signed on October 20, 1979. The following month, Cnes launched a call for candidates. Out of 193 files preserved, 72 have been selected. After a series of psychological, physiological, and physical examinations (rolling stools, centrifuges, etc.), there were only five candidates in February 1980 (Patrick Boudry, Jean-Loop Cretin, Jean-Pierre Job, Gerard Juin, and Franোois Vernier). Following the feedback from Soviet experts (who do not hold a single woman), the four men are sent to the USSR, where they familiarize themselves with Russian strategy (and language). In the end, however, there should be only two left. On June 11, 1980, CNS fighter pilots Jean-Loop Cretaine (born August 20, 1938 in La Rochelle) and Patrick Boudry (born March 6, 1946 in Douala, Cameroon) were selected to fly to the city from September 1980. Be. Stars near Moscow, to perfect their education and training to be real “astronauts”. For the first time, Westerners discovered the proximity of Soviet training centers.

On September 9, 1981, when Patrick Boudri had to take on the role of replacement, Jean-Loop Critian was officially nominated as an astronaut-engineer. It was asked to conduct numerous experiments on board at the brand new Salyut 7 station, which was launched on April 19, 1982, at an altitude of 290 km from Perigi and 310 km (with an inclination towards the equator) at Apogee. ), The Soyuz T-5 crew since May, occupied by Anatoly Berezovy and Valentin Lebedev. Vladimir Janibekov, Alexandre Ivanchenkov, and Jean-Lুপpe Critienne, the first visit crew to prepare for the arrival of the arrival of the station is a priority for later.

Star people

Traditionally, every manned flight has a badge. For the PVH, the Soviets contacted the Cnes, as Daniel Metzle, head of the Cnes press service, recalls: “We were asked to do the logo because, they said, ‘you have a good artist’! The drawing of a star-man on a blue background was very popular, but there was some reluctance on the part of the Soviets because in the picture, the man was initially walking on the Soviet flag below! There was a need to change what some have called “refugees”. Because it now gives the feeling that it is going to find refuge under the French flag! A. Directed by the French painter Michel Granger, the logo reflects the state of mind of the PVH mission, the desire to reach and understand the universe with which man is closely associated.

The launch of PVH and the media are echoed

On June 24, 1982, the Soyuz T-6 spacecraft successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) using the Soyuz Type Launcher. Once in orbit, the three men take off their spacesuits, spend some time eating and observing the Earth, then maneuver to join the Salyut 7-Soyuz T-5 orbital train 24 hours after launch.

In France, despite the political instability associated with the aftermath of the Afghan incident, a section of the press followed the incident and presented the mission and the astronaut, leaving readers in doubt. On the 25th day after launch, The new republic Announcement: “Franco-Soviet space. Gene-Loop Creatine: A trouble-free launch into orbit., The Paris Daily : “Sky! The first French astronaut, Jean-Lpe Cretin, got off to a good start., Republic of the Center, “A Space Cruise for the Gene-Loop Creation”, Independent Parisians : “8 days in gin-loop Christian space”Etc. Naturally, everyone is aware of what we owe to the Soviets, as underlined Release In large print on the first page: “Russians make French a small spatial ladder”.

[Suite à paraître vendredi 24 juin]

Some references

A simple job : From Gagarin to Thomas Pesket. The deal is in spaceEric Botlander and Pierre-Franোয়াois Mariax, Lewison Edition, 2017

– A story : Before space. The first Frenchman in spaceJean-Loop Cretaine, Patrick Boudry and Bernard Chabert, Plane, Paris, 1982

A meeting Between Daniel Metzle and Philip Vernotox, by telephone, June 20, 2022

A video Cnes entitled A portrait of the gene-loop creatineBy Guy Beauche, Scientifilms, 2008.

Philippe Varnoteaux is a doctor of history, an expert on the origin of space exploration in France, and the author of several reference works.

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