It’s D-Day for Thomas Pesquet and his three fellow astronauts who, unless canceled at the last minute, should take off on Friday April 23 from Cape Canaveral in Florida. At 5:49 a.m. East Coast time in the United States, 11:49 a.m. in France, the team will depart for the International Space Station, for a six-month stay. This will be the astronaut’s second trip to space.
>> DIRECT. Takeoff to the ISS: Thomas Pesquet and his three teammates took their seats in the capsule
A few hours before launch, they only spoke by text message, because Thomas Pesquet was isolated and concentrated with the rest of the crew. And like 4 years ago in Baikonur in Russia, his relatives are accompanying him on this adventure. A large number of them will soon be attending the launch of the Falcon rocket and the Crew Dragon 2 spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center.
And like four years ago, in Baikonour, they are preparing to see it take off for the international space station, at an altitude of 400 km. “Can we really get used to this stuff? I don’t think …, smiles Lucie Pesquet, his cousin. In any case, it’s always a great moment and we live it with a lot of happiness and pride. “
Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen is a classmate of Pesquet, recruited the same year by the European Space Agency. He spent ten days aboard the International Space Station in 2015. And here’s how he talks about his friend and colleague: “First, he’s a great guy and that’s very important, he explains. Because you are on board the station with a limited crew, seven people in total. So you have to get along well with others, know how to work with them … “
“Thomas is a nice, funny, kind, caring guy. But technically he’s also a great astronaut. He’s both engineering skills and the very operational side of a pilot.”Andreas Mogensen
At the time of the launch, Pesquet’s relatives and family will be on a NASA observation platform, about five kilometers from launch pad number 39, from which the Falcon 9.70 rocket will launch if all goes well. meters high and almost 600 tons.
“There is indeed impatience, pride, entrusts Baptiste is the older brother of Thomas Pesquet. There is a little tension because … space is complicated and risky, we all know that. Before take off, we tell him that we love him, that we think of him and that we can’t wait to see up there, close the airlock, be safe in the ISS and be able to begin his mission for Well.” During the six months aboard the station, the French astronaut will be able to communicate with his relatives, by e-mail or more rarely by telephone.