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Video: French astronaut Pesquet describes first days aboard space station

© YouTube screengrab| French astronaut Thomas Pesquet at the International Space Station

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-11-24

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said on Wednesday that he has “adapted very quickly” to his new life in space, in his first full interview since arriving at the International Space Station (ISS) last weekend.

Pesquet, 38, played with a floating globe as he spoke to journalists back home in France about his first few days aboard the ISS.

“Everyone feels extremely well,” he said. “We adapted very quickly. We were not ill at all.”

The young Frenchman landed at the ISS last Saturday alongside NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy. They joined three men already on board – one American and two Russians.

It is Pesquet’s first space flight and the first French space mission in eight years.

“During Proxima, Thomas will perform around 50 scientific experiments for ESA (European Space Agency) and France’s space agency CNES as well as take part in many research activities for the other Station partners,” the European Space Agency said.

In addition to English, Spanish and German, Thomas Pesquet has also spent many hours learning Russian so he can communicate with the cosmonauts. “It’s probably the most difficult thing I’ve done in the last few years, but we are going to have to use it almost on a daily basis in the Russian vehicle,” he told FRANCE 24 in a recent interview at the ESA’s headquarters in Paris.

Pesquet has recounted how he was a “space fanatic” as a child growing up in the northern French city of Rouen. In his family home he would play in a cardboard "space shuttle" built by his father, and begged his parents to buy magazines that specialised in space exploration. He said he made career choices that almost “unconsciously” led him to become an astronaut.

After getting a degree in spacecraft design and control, he started his career as a satellite and spacecraft engineer. He was later selected by Air France’s flight training programme and became an airline pilot. In May 2009 he was chosen to be an ESA astronaut – one of only six picked from a list of 8,413 candidates.

"Thomas is a remarkable guy," former ESA chief Jean-Jacques Dordain told AFP in a recent interview, recounting how he helped pick Pesquet when the pool of candidates had been reduced down to just 10 people.

"He boasts both an interesting professional curriculum and important social attributes that allow him to be comfortable with everyone around him. And finally, he is passionate,” Dordain said. “That makes him a great ambassador for space."

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2016-11-24

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