When will French astronaut Sophie Adenot be able to go into space?

The European Space Agency has chosen the French Sophie Adenot as the new astronaut. There is still a long way to go before the pilot flies into Earth orbit.

France has a new astronaut and her name is Sophie Adenot. His name was announced at the same time as that of the 4 other recruits of the European Space Agency (ESA), on November 23, 2022, in the category of career astronauts. The CV of this French engineer and pilot 40 years old is hair-raising. She is a lieutenant-colonel of the Air and Space Force. She is also the first female helicopter test pilot in France.

Sophie Adenot will follow in the footsteps of Thomas Pesquet, with the prospect of staying, too, in the International Space Station (ISS) during her career as an astronaut. But, when exactly? For the moment, we do not know on what precise date Sophie Adenot will leave for her first stay in space, in orbit. However, some clues suggest that it will not be for a few years.

Sophie Adenot will train for years before flying to the stars

Once selected, ESA astronauts typically undergo at least 3-4 years of training before flying into space for the first time. », indicates the ESA on a page about astronaut training. Following this logic, Sophie Adenot could therefore go into space on the horizon 2025-2026 (or even 2026-2027, since the announcement of his recruitment comes towards the end of 2022).

The next step for ESA’s new career astronauts is to travel to the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany, to take up their duties. There, they will follow a 12-month training course. This is only the “basic” training, during which ” astronauts are introduced to the fundamentals of spaceflight “, according to the ESA. They learn how SpaceX and Boeing vehicles work, receive survival training and practice spacewalks. This training leads to the ESA astronaut diploma. Only then do astronauts become eligible for a mission.

Thomas Pesquet during training in 2012. // Source: Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center
Thomas Pesquet during training in 2012. // Source: Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center

“Training doesn’t stop when an astronaut reaches the ISS”

Before being assigned to their mission, ESA astronauts continue to learn. They are trained in ISS systems. Then, the training is still not completed with the assignment to the mission. A training specific to the tasks that they will have to carry out starts. Astronauts train together as much as possible during this stage, as they must be able to work effectively according to their assigned responsibilities. It is also at this time that the astronauts practice carrying out the experiments they will carry out in space, as well as any extra-vehicular outings.

The ESA goes even further by saying that ” the training does not stop when an astronaut reaches the space station, nor when he returns to Earth. They continue to learn in space, through textbook sessions or videoconferences with their trainers on Earth. Once back on the surface of our planet, they go back again and again… to training.

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