Understand everything about his alpha mission

Thomas Pesquet begins his mission within the ISS today. Born in Rouen, he has a very busy schedule for his second trip to the international space station. Between a scientific experiment and an extravehicular maneuver, a brief overview of what awaits the French astronaut in the next six months.

In general, space missions are aptly named, and the latter often mean a lot about the nature of the journey itself. With Proxima in 2016, Thomas Pesquet was part of one of the first missions to have constant and direct contact with the ground. Thanks in particular to this technological advancement, he was able to post so many photos on the internet while he was still in the air, hundreds of kilometers above our heads. For this second mission, the French boarded the alpha mission.

This is the first of a new kind for NASA and partner space agencies (mostly ESA, JAXA), the first in a long list that would lead to the return of man to the moon after Neil Armstrong nearly 60 years ago. As Thomas Pesquet himself explains, the main purpose of his mission will be to “lay the foundations for a return to the moon”.

232 scientific experiments are planned for the entire Alpha mission. Some of them need to be set up by Thomas Pesquet, especially one who turned his attention to “mini-brains”. The French need to study the development of stem cells in space, an essential experience in preparing for long voyages in space.

Another amazing experience Thomas Pesquet will have during his extended stay will be related to the blob. This yellow unicellular organism has fascinated science for years and the French will be the first to cultivate it in space.

Spacewalk and station command

As during his Proxima mission in 2016, the astronaut should be required to perform one or more space walks during his mission. These should relate to the station’s electrical system in order for the solar panels to perform better. Almost twenty years old, these must be carefully maintained in order to continue to bring power to the station.

The other big moment of the Frenchman’s mission will be in command for a month. The ESA astronaut will actually be at the helm of the international space station in the second part of his mission. This new role is a real “honor” for him, which also rewards the work of the engineers from CNES, the national center for space studies, on site. In recent years France has regained a prominent place in space exploration. It was recently brought to light by SuperCam, the “head” of NASA’s Perseverance rover, which is French in design.

In order to reward the work of all French space players, but also the very good work of Thomas Pesquet, he will therefore be the station commander. He will be the first French to achieve this title and the third European only since the ISS was founded in 2001.

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