She will be the future French astronaut: 4 things to know about Sophie Adenot

40-year-old Frenchman Sophie Adenot was chosen as an astronaut of the European Space Agency. Air Force helicopter engineer and pilot. Here are four things to know about Thomas Pesquet’s new co-star.

“This is a pretty incredible moment, I’ve been dreaming about space since I was a little girl and this dream just keeps growing… today it’s not even concrete because it’s hard to understand what’s going on. pass!” Sophie Adenot reacted to the press. This Wednesday, November 23, after the announcement of the new selection of astronauts from the European Space Agency (ESA) in Paris.

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Biography of an astronaut

“We’ve worked hard to get here today,” another woman said, pacing the podium of the ephemeral Grand Palace where five elected officials, including a Briton, a Spaniard, a Belgian and a Swiss, were being presented.

Sophie Adenot, who grew up in Burgundy, is an engineer, graduated from ISAE-SUPAERO in Toulouse, specializing in the flight dynamics of spacecraft and aircraft. He studied human factors engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA.

He also spent a year at Airbus Helicopters designing cockpits. “I was passionate about helicopters and their cockpits, I wanted to explore new technologies, so I applied to be a test pilot,” says the man, who today has 3,000 flight hours and has flown 22 different types of helicopters.

She holds the rank of lieutenant colonel and was the first female helicopter test pilot. Sophie Adenot speaks English, German, Spanish and Russian. A mother of young children, she teaches yoga.

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Inspired by Marie Curie and Claudie Haigneré

Sophie Adenot said in front of many cameras: “I grew up in a family where we were forced to be interested in everything. I grew up with an explorer spirit.” His desire for space dates back to his childhood – “my sister often reminds me that when I was little, the only poster in my room was a poster of a rocket”. It all started “by reading the biography of this great lady, Marie Curie, who inspired so many people”. Then, at the age of 14, Claudie Haigneré’s first flight was “a real click”. The astronaut also paid tribute to his “fantastic school teachers” who “helped build his confidence”, saying: “I would never have made it without my role models.” Until the “courage” to apply for ESA. At the age of 40, Sophie Adenot became the second French woman astronaut in history, after Claudie Haigner, who made the first flight on the Mir station in 1996.

He was impressed by Pesquet

“They have iron health, incredible skills, crazy resumes and, above all, they passed psychological tests that scare me in retrospect,” said Thomas Pesquet, who advised the lucky ones to be “patient but active” before their first flight – he waited seven. years for him. The star astronaut who took part in the tests said he was proud to see a French woman, as well as his second compatriot, Arnaud Prost, 30, who joined the ESA reserve corps.

In orbit since 2026

With her new colleagues, Sophie Adenot will have to wait until spring 2023 to start training at the ESA European Astronaut Center in Cologne. Probably from 2026 for the first mission in orbit.

“It’s a new world, there are a lot of unknowns, I’ll learn as I go. I’m happy to follow in the footsteps of Thomas Pesquet,” said Sophie Adenot.

Five new ESA astronauts are initially called upon to orbit the International Space Station (ISS) – leaving several slots for future lunar missions for the previous generation already experienced in low orbits.

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