QUARANTINE. Wednesday, November 16, 2016, 18: 30, hotel of Cosmonauts in Baikonur (Kazakhstan). Officially called the training Center Gagarin, this grand building “L” of pure soviet-style houses of the periods of quarantine astronauts for decades. On its facade, a mosaic, allegorical of two men who leap into space, to the bottom of the garden, that of the face of Gagarin in his helmet… The heavily armed soldiers we are back on earth, searching scrupulously the crowd of journalists French, russians, americans, while a car arrived, a horde of fans waving flags Russian. In 1961, Yuri Gagarin had been, to him, to enjoy his own home on the cosmodrome, right next to the one of Sergey Korolev, the fo under of the soviet space programme. Driven by its success, the USSR has then multiplied the flights and the quarantine has become a practical must. “quarantine, in the space, this is to isolate people in good health so that they are not infected by us”, explains Raffi Kuyumjian, physician assistant Thomas Pesquet. They are as well a fifty assigned in the hotel’s cosmonauts for more than two weeks. “A period of time that is sufficient for the infectious disease to declare itself. If someone gets sick on the resort, in a confined environment, the disease spreads quickly. It does not matter if it is a cold. But a gastro….”
After a long wait in the end of the day icy, here we are inside the conference room, full of journalists, cameras, parents, personal space agencies. The father, the brother and the wife of Thomas Pesquet, 38 years old, the tenth French astronaut to go into space, are nearly in the first rank. His friends are also there, including a group of line pilots of Air France who made the trip to support their former colleague.
A kind of miracle of peace.
today, It is the ultimate exercise in the media of Thomas Pesquet, after a journey of seven years following his selection with five other european astronauts in 2009 : the ritual of the press conference that precedes the launch of a little more than 24 hours. The six cosmonauts – the main crew, Thomas Pesquet, the American Peggy Whitson, Russian Oleg Novitsky and their proxies, are used one after the other, welcoming the shadows behind the glass shielded. From the outset, Peggy Whitson is enthusiastic about the program of the international space station (ISS), “demonstration of this as people getting together can do together, (…) a kind of miracle of time of peace. It was a technical challenge, and yet it works !”
The six men are relaxed, smiling. Thomas Pesquet deploys his humour : “The rocket is ready. There are only a few 'cartons' to take ‘ . Yet, he does not realize yet that it will take off in a few hours. “It’s been seven years that I train, and now that it has never been so close to the rocket, everything is strangely normal. There is not much that can be put on the road to my dream. But it will have to wait to be seated in the rocket and feel the vibrations of take-off to feel like I’m in space.” In the meantime, “until tomorrow evening I’m going to live my little life to normal.” The launch to the ISS, in orbit 400 km above the Earth, is scheduled for this Thursday, November 17, at 21h20 (Paris time).
Thomas Pesquet will carry with him a “piece of meteorite fell on earth in the Sahara desert, certified from March. We then return to Mars to be used to calibrate the next mars rover, he said. The idea is not to do a performance but to say that space exploration is a whole. Manned flight and robotic exploration are branches of the same movement exploration, we need to send robots on Mars but we will also one day need to send men to make the science more focused We are a large family of space exploration. What is important is that this process will continue in the future. This is not my adventure to me, but an adventure that will continue long after we“, he added. March ? “We all have it in head“, acknowledges Thomas Pesquet. “We are explorers. We’re going in the station to make it possible to travel beyond. If I request to all those who are behind this glass if they are willing to go on March, everyone will lift the hand. We all March in the viewfinder, on the scale of twenty years. This is not important, whether it be me or someone else. It is to continue an exploration which began 55 years ago. The ISS itself was only 18 years old, hardly the age of majority. The space is very young.”