Thus ends the second space mission of his career: the Frenchman Thomas Pesquet returned to Earth on the night of Monday 8 to Tuesday 9 November, after a six-month stay in orbit in the International Space Station (ISS) which ended with a successful water landing off the coast of Florida.
→ EXPLANATION. Thomas Pesquet back from the ISS: six months on board and a hundred scientific experiments
SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which also carried three other astronauts – Japanese Akihiko Hoshide and Americans Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur – was slowed down in its dizzying descent by the Earth’s atmosphere and then by huge parachutes. She landed in the Gulf of Mexico at 3:33 a.m. GMT (4:33 a.m. PST) Tuesday, at dawn in France.
– NASA (@NASA) November 9, 2021
Scorched by the extreme temperatures experienced during its fall, it was hoisted with the aid of a crane onto a ship which had been stationed at sea nearby. Dragon’s hatch was opened, and the first images of Thomas Pesquet showed him, still sitting on board in his spacesuit, waving a thumbs up. The astronauts were then taken out one by one, Thomas Pesquet last. Like the others, he was first placed on a stretcher as a precaution.
“Next time, the Moon?” “
“A pride to have represented France once again in space! “, tweeted a few hours before departure the one who, through his abundant social media posts, gave millions of people a taste of life in orbit. “Next time, the Moon?” “, he said.
– Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) November 8, 2021
Once the astronauts got out of the capsule, a helicopter was to bring them back to dry land. Thomas Pesquet is due to undergo rapid medical tests in the United States before flying to Cologne, Germany, where the European Astronaut Center is located. For three weeks, it will then be subjected to a battery of scientific tests, intended to observe the effect of a long stay in orbit on the human body.
→ READ. Thomas Pesquet, the day when “I went out into space”
Then the astronaut will finally take a little vacation. The first “For many months”, he said Friday at a press conference. “I even have the impression that it’s been years”, he added, qualifying the past mission of “Very, very intense”.
The arrival of their replacements delayed
During his stay in orbit, Thomas Pesquet made no less than four extra-vehicular outings (“EVA”) outside the station, in particular to install new solar panels. This brings him to six sorties in total, after the two made during his first mission. He also conducted many scientific experiments.
The 43-year-old Frenchman spent 199 days in zero gravity. He arrived aboard the space station (ISS) on April 24, along with the other members of the Crew-2 mission. The arrival on board the ISS of their replacements, four astronauts from Crew-3, has been delayed several times, in particular because of the weather. The launch of their SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will finally take place at 9:03 p.m. local time (3:03 a.m. KST Thursday) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. In the meantime, the Space Station will not be uninhabited: two Russians and an American remain on board.