Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Nigeria: Army denies reports of missing soldiers after Boko Haram attacks

Read more

FOCUS

Despite economic blockade and corruption scandals, Qatar prepares for its 2022 World Cup

Read more

ENCORE!

Beatmaker & singer Estère brings her musical melting pot to Afropunk Paris

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Iran water shortages, street art in Yemen, and more

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Maltese foreign minister: ‘We need to implement legal paths of migration into Europe’

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

FIFA takes home revenue of over €5 billion from World Cup

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Les Bleus 2018: The new 'tsars' of world football

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Eurogroup chief Centeno: ‘We need to an end what seems to be a trade war’

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Trump rocks the boat in UK

Read more

Europe

Returning French superstar spaceman Thomas Pesquet's ode to Earth in pictures

© Thomas Pesquet, ESA/NASA/AFP | French astronaut Thomas Pesquet posing for a selfie outside the International Space Station on January 13, 2017.

Text by Tracy MCNICOLL

Latest update : 2017-06-02

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet returned to Earth on Friday after a six-month mission on the ISS. He travelled 400km up to study space, but his tweets highlighted his home planet. FRANCE 24 has unearthed Pesquet’s out-of-this-world images.

The Normandy-born Pesquet made the three-hour-and-20-minute return trip on Friday alongside Russian colleague Oleg Novitskiy on the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft, which delivered the pair onto the steppes of Kazakhstan at around 2:10pm GMT (4:10pm Paris time).

At 39, Pesquet is the youngest of the European Space Agency’s roster of astronauts. This space voyage was his first, after training for more than seven years.

His 196-day trip falls just three days short of the record for the longest continuous mission in space by a European.

A spacecraft engineer by training, Pesquet is also a former commercial pilot for Air France.

The son of a maths and physics professor and a schoolteacher, the polyglot Pesquet speaks French, English, German, Russian and Spanish.

He is also an accomplished sportsman, with a black belt in judo and extensive scuba and skydiving experience to round out the tableau.

(And yes, ladies, he is taken; Pesquet’s partner, Anne Mottet, lives in Rome, where she works for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.)

The Frenchman conducted 60 scientific experiments in space and completed two spacewalks to conduct maintenance on the International Space Station (ISS).

But for the general public in France and beyond – and for @thom_astro’s 561,000 Twitter followers, in particular – his trip will be remembered as a window on the earth.

Pesquet's extraordinary photographs and videos from space displayed natural and man-made phenomena all around the planet, sometimes explicitly remarking on a magnificent vista’s vulnerability to climate change.

“There are things that one understands intellectually, but which one doesn’t really get,” Pesquet told Agence France-Presse via videolink, while gently floating around in zero gravity inside the ISS. When it comes to global warming, he said, “We talk of two degrees (Celsius) or four degrees – these are numbers which sometimes exceed human understanding. But to see the planet as a whole… to see it for yourself… this allows you to truly appreciate the fragility.”

Alas, Pesquet, who lifted off when Barack Obama was still president of the United States and Donald Trump the new president-elect, also returns to earth less than 24 hours after Trump’s announcement that the US would pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

Pesquet arrived on the ISS on November 20, which was also before the election of a French president only two months his elder.

Emmanuel Macron followed Pesquet's return to earth from France’s National Centre for Space Studies in Paris on Friday afternoon. The president and the astronaut will speak briefly once Pesquet exits the capsule in Kazahkstan.

Date created : 2017-06-02

  • SPACE

    French astronaut Pesquet to make country's first space mission in eight years

    Read more

  • SPACE

    Video: French astronaut Pesquet describes first days aboard space station

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French astronaut Thomas Pesquet takes first footsteps in space

    Read more

COMMENT(S)