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

[Suite de l’article paru le 23 juin 2022]

Part 2: Under the Signs of Life Science

“First day on board [de la station orbitale Saliout est] A kind of bracket in the life of the residents and an installation day for the visitors.Later Jean-Loup Chrétien will testify. “Tomorrow will be different; He has enough trouble every day. “. In fact, a busy schedule awaits the French astronaut who is conducting a dozen experiments in three main fields (life sciences, astronomy, physics studies) from June 26 to July 1, from a large scientific instrument of about 200 kg brought in a while ago. Progress of the cargo ship 13. Launched on 23 June and moored from the rear airlock of Salute 7 on 25 June, it contained two tons of cargo (drinking water, scientific instruments, personal equipment, etc.).

Life science in the spotlight

The main French experiments are dedicated to the science of life, starting with “echography” and “posture”. The first goal is to study the distribution of blood volumes and their rules proposed by Tours of Lion University and Professor Purcell (L), Arbeil (Ph) and Potier (JM) of the University of Garib (C). For the “posture” centered on sensitive-motor physiology, it was started by Professor Barthos (A) and Lestein (F) from CNRS. Renেনে Bost, head of life sciences at CNS, noted the importance of this innovative and high-tech experiment: “We’ve created first-class measuring instruments, for example an instrument to follow the movements of the eyes… we measure the astronaut by a certain number of movements and then. This type of device was created for PVH. We also developed an ultrasound machine to measure the function of the heart and to see how it was evolving (…). When Chretien flew away, I remember she struggled to find her heart that moved! We realized that this was due to the effects of weight loss. “.

In terms of biology, two important experiments are also performed: “cytosis” and “bioblock”. The first relates to the study of bacterial behavior with antibiotics, the second relates to the effects of cosmic radiation on Artemia salina eggs or seeds. This study made it possible for the Americans and the Soviets to complete what they were already doing to better understand the problems encountered during long stays on ships, especially to detect depletion of living creatures in a particularly limited environment.

Other experiences

More modest but just as important are the studies of astrophysics and geophysics, such as “pyramids” (infrared visible in the atmosphere and near-infrared, interplanetary media and galaxies), “siren” (the study of X-rays) or “PCN” Take night sky photographs to get specific information like nature). Of the astronomical experiments, the “pyramid” is probably the most important. Designed by CNRS’s Aronomy Service and the Marseille Space Astronomy Laboratory, in charge of the Annie-Chantal Levasure-Regard, the instrument is used jointly by astronauts Critian and Janibekov, allowing more than 200 shots, including 104. Astronomy outside the solar system, 37 for interstellar media, 66 for Earth’s atmosphere.

Finally, the last major field addressed is the development of matter in microgravity through three experiments, including “Alliance” (consolidation of an aluminum / indium alloy) and “Magma” (reactor testing). However, there are occasional difficulties, such as with an oven or pyramid (because the autopilot broke down, the astronauts had to manually move towards the orbital station).

Life on board at the orbital station

During the six days spent in the salute, not the rest of Jean-Loop Critian (like his colleagues), the situation was not always clear, as he himself announced at a live press conference at the end of the station. Day 6: “The state of weightlessness bothered me for about 48 hours, especially causing swelling in the face (…). Some operations are easier to perform in space, such as moving a heavy body. But there is an opposite. Objects move at their own pace. We move our pens, our We lose our shoes … we spend our time looking for what we lost. “.

Rest is also sometimes difficult because he will testify a little later: “We sleep very badly, suddenly waking up by the creeks of the station that stretch and shrink between shadow and light.”Not to mention hygienic conditions. “We feel even more dirty because if there is a kind of shower on the board, the water supply doesn’t let you spray yourself every day, far from it! In fact, we wouldn’t try to wash ourselves without rubbing a square of tissue paper soaked in toilet water … “.

At the endLiving and working in microgravity “It’s a challenge, you have to hold on! , But “Despite the discomfort, things have a good side, and the word ‘good’ is far below the truth that is ridiculous.”Such as looking through the portholes of the earth or the universe and perhaps the most amazing thing, he would write, “The earth does not stop on the opposite horizon, on the steep rise from the tree line. The whole world is visible. No more horizons..

Return and respect

After orbiting the Earth 127 times and covering 5 million kilometers in 7 days, 21 hours and 51 minutes, Jean-Loop Cretin and his two companions returned to Earth at 2:21 pm (public time) on July 2. They receive the highest rank, the Heroes of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin to the Soviets, then officers of the Legion of Honor by Colonel and President Franোয়াois Mitterrand.

Some references

An article: “Salutians in the workplace”Rene Pichelin, Humanity, June 30, 1982

This is a special problem Astronomy, “French man in space 20 years. In the footsteps of Jean-Lুপpe Crete.Volume 116, September 2002

A testimony Interview with Pierre-Franোয়াois Mariax and Philippe Vernotox in Chile-Mazarine, by Renেনে Bost, May 21, 2011

– A story : Before space. The first Frenchman in spaceJean-Loup Chrétien, Patrick Baudry and Bernard Chabbert, Plon, Paris, 1982.

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

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