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

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At 40, the French Sophie Adenot has just been named astronaut of the European Space Agency. Air Force helicopter engineer and pilot. Here are four things to know about Thomas Pesquet’s new colleague.

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

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An astronaut resume

“We worked hard to get here today,” she said, moved, on the podium of the ephemeral Grand Palace where the promotion of five elected officials was presented, including another woman, a Briton-, a Spaniard, a Belgian and a Swiss.

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. She trained in human factors engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA.

She also worked for a year at Airbus Helicopters to design cockpits there. “I was passionate about helicopters and their cockpits, I wanted to explore new technologies and that’s why I applied to be a test pilot”, says the one who has 3,000 flight hours today. account and has flown on 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. Mother of a young child, she teaches yoga.

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Inspired by Marie Curie and Claudie Haigneré

“I was raised in a family where we were pushed to be curious about everything. I grew up with the soul of an explorer,” said Sophie Adenot in front of a swarm of cameras. Her dream of space goes back to her childhood – “my sister often reminds me that when I was little, the only poster in my room was that of a rocket”. It all started with “reading the biography of Marie Curie, this great lady who inspired many people”. Then, at the age of 14, Claudie Haigneré’s first flight was “a real click”. “I would never have gotten there if I hadn’t had role models,” said the astronaut, also paying tribute to “fantastic school teachers” who “helped her to have confidence”. Until “the audacity” to apply for the ESA. At 40, Sophie Adenot becomes the second French woman astronaut in history, after Claudie Haigneré who made her first flight aboard the Mir station in 1996.

Admired by Pesquet

“They have iron health, incredible skills, crazy CVs and above all, they passed psychological tests which scared me in retrospect”, said Thomas Pesquet, who advised the lucky ones to be “patient, but actively” before their first flight – waited seven years for him. The star astronaut, who took part in the tests, said he was “proud” to see a Frenchwoman selected, as well as a second of his compatriots, Arnaud Prost, 30, who joins the ESA reserve corps.

In orbit from 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. For a first mission in orbit probably from 2026.

“It’s a new world, with a lot of unknowns, I’ll learn the job as I go. I’m delighted to follow in Thomas Pesquet’s footsteps,” commented Sophie Adenot.

The five new ESA astronauts are called to fly in orbit, in the International Space Station (ISS) initially – the few places for future lunar missions will be reserved for the previous generation already experienced in low orbit stays.

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