Local Dignitaries attend 10th French Astronaut take off at ISU

It’s not every day that a French astronaut is launched to space! The International Space University celebrated the take-off of mission PROXIMA including T. Pesquet’’ an ESA astronaut, by organizing an event for the general public.

It took place at ISU’s central campus in Strasbourg, France in the presence also of Mr R. Herrmann President of the Eurometropole of Strasbourg (EmS) and Ms C. Trautmann Vice-President of EmS.

Close to 200 people including families with younger children and local dignitaries avidly followed the program which kept them all on the edge of their seat during two hours. An evening of surprises that the ISU staff had compiled and rolled out as a team, collectively with the MSS17 students.

A web feed to ISU from The Cité de l’Espace allowed Prof. JJ. Favier who was located for the occasion in Toulouse to talk about ISU and salute the crowd assembled in ISU’s Cosmos auditorium.

ISU President Prof. W. Peeters then explained what it takes to become an astronaut. Illustrating his talk with anecdotes and stories from his own experience as chief coordinator of the European astronauts at EAC (European Astronauts Center) in particular on the customs associated with a start in Baikonour.  

T. Pesquet like many astronauts is a talented musician, a keen saxophone player. Having an intermezzo led by the Alsatian worldwide renowned saxophonist Mr P. Geiss gave several of us goosebumps. EmS President, Mr Herrmann particularly enjoyed this Irish piece of music, which was also an allusion to SSP17! T. Pesquet is not only a friend of Mr Geiss, but also the president of honour of his association Sax & Co. Rumor has it that a saxophone is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS)…

Questions during the Q&A session to Prof. Peeters, Mr Geiss and Prof. Welch who lent his Soyuz model for the decoration of the stage, were plentiful - shortly interrupted by the punctual countdown of the Russian launch team at the cosmodrome of Baikonour in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz which was to take T. Pesquet and two other astronauts to ISS was about to leave, on time, just like every other Russian launch.

This ISU event was largely covered by the media, allowing MSS17 students to take part in TV interviews and therefore gaining self-confidence in front of a camera. Several pictures were taken.

EmS President Mr R. Herrmann concluded this evening by re-iterating the fruitful collaboration between EmS and ISU. He is especially looking forward to seeing the MMARS1 experiment (an experiment on the behaviour of methanogene bacteria in microgravity, developed by ISU in cooperation with Airbus and UdS, and with the financial support from the Eurometropole. This experiment is being sent to ISS, and Mr. Herrmann is secretly hoping that T. Pesquet will be the one unloading the experiment and starting it up.