SPACE

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet continues Moon dance at first press event

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet poses at the end of a press conference in Cologne, western Germany, on November 12, 2021.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet poses at the end of a press conference in Cologne, western Germany, on November 12, 2021. AFP - INA FASSBENDER

The importance of hot showers, working hard, and aiming for the Moon and Mars – in a sustainable way – were the main takeaways from French astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s first press conference Friday, which took place in Germany three days after his splashdown from a six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

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"If given the choice, I would choose to set foot on the Moon,” Pesquet told a team of journalists gathered at the European Space Agency (ESA) in Cologne, where he under the watchful eye of doctors.

"If you ask anyone, the Moon is the most exciting thing. There have been no Europeans.”

While the choice won’t be his to make, Pesquet may just get his chance given the ESA is hoping to send an astronaut to the Moon before 2030.

"Today, all space agencies agree on returning to the Moon, but in a more sustainable way, for scientific purposes and in cooperation,“ he said, adding that once that feat is accomplished “we’ll go and do the same thing on Mars”.

European record

Spacewalks taken during Pesquet’s Alpha Mission have earned him the European record for the most time spent on the outside the ISS, which orbits the Earth a mind-boggling 15 to 16 times a day at a speed of 27,700km/h. 

Despite this impressive accomplishment, taking a simple shower back home proved challenging after all that time spent in zero gravity, carrying out experiments while witnessing more than a dozen sunrises a day. 

“It sounds simple for you, but it's a little more complicated for me because everything that moves your head can make you dizzy,” he explained.

Pesquet must now undergo a fitness regime to regain his full physical capabilities, especially given prolonged stays in space can cause osteoporosis much faster than on Earth.

"We're going to get back in shape and train our balance system," he said, adding that his readjustment to Earth's gravity was going well so far.

"We went back to work as soon as the plane landed (from Florida).”

The 43-year-old confided that for now he still felt “a little heavy" after his second mission 400km above the Earth. 

"I wouldn’t be able to run 100 metres," he smiled.

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