France’s ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet took time out from readapting to Earth’s gravity and a battery of medical tests following his nearly 200-day mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to meet Frédérique Vidal, the Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC).
Having watched the landing of the Soyuz capsule alongside President Emmanuel Macron at CNES Head Office last Friday, she wished to congratulate the astronaut on his accomplishments and for being such a great ambassador for science, France and Europe. Indeed, science was the focus of his Proxima mission, during which he performed a series of scientific and educational experiments on the exceptional research outpost that is the ISS, perched 400 kilometres above Earth and set to serve as a stepping stone for further human exploration of space. As the station’s mission engineer, he was in charge of more than 50 science experiments developed by ESA and CNES, and took part in research work for the programme’s partners. Pushing one’s limits for the good of science is something that inspires both pride and joy, and something that the minister was keen to underline.
The Proxima mission offers an opportunity to highlight how science is working to improve our daily lives and achieve important social advances through a methodical and collective approach. Likewise, CNES, as the leading contributor to ESA, is playing its part in inventing the future of space.
In Cologne, Frédérique Vidal commented: “Thomas Pesquet has fired the enthusiasm of thousands of youngsters and shown that to be a scientist you need an inquiring mind, a taste for adventure and be ready to give your all to acquire new knowledge. After the extraordinary success of his space mission, we are all very proud of this new illustration of French and European prowess accomplished by CNES and ESA and all their scientific and industrial partners.”
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