Sophie Adenot joins the European Space Agency, becoming the first French astronaut since Claudie Haigneré

France had not had a female astronaut since Claudie Haigneré, who stayed aboard the Mir station in 1996. On Wednesday, November 23, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced that French Sophie Adenot, 40, had been retained in the new promotion of European astronauts, which includes two women and three men.

Sophie Adenot, Air and Space Force helicopter pilot, “embodies an example for the future of women in scientific and technical circles, where they are still underrepresented [moins d’un astronaute sur dix est une femme] », said in a joint press release the Ministry of Economy and Higher Education. Another Frenchman, Arnaud Prost, has been retained in the reserve corps for promotion in 2022.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Josef Aschbacher and Thomas Pesquet: “Space can help us meet the climate challenges”

Graduated from the Higher Institute of Aeronautics and Space, engineer Sophie Adenot, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, was the first female helicopter test pilot with 3,000 flight hours on the counter. Another woman, the British Rosemary Coogan, is also nominated, as well as three men: the Swiss Marco Sieber, the Spanish Pablo Alvarez Fernandez and the Belgian Raphaël Liégeois.

This promotion, chosen from around 23,000 candidates, follows the one from 2009, which with Thomas Pesquet had sparked a genuine enthusiasm for the space adventure among young Europeans. Training for the selected five is due to begin this spring, but the first orbital mission for one of them is not expected until 2026.

During the presentation of this new generation, Thomas Pesquet advised them “hold tight”. And “Meanwhile we continue our work, no one retires today. For the Artemis missions to the Moon we send (…) rather, people from my generation, by 2030, while this new campaign learns the trade, makes its weapons and a mission on the ISS “the International Space Station, he said.

A budget of 17 billion euros

When ASE had launched its recruitment campaign in February 2021, Claudie Haigneré had also warned about the constitution of“monocultural and monolithic herds”. “We have a social responsibility to represent the world as we want it tomorrow”she said.

In addition, the European Space Agency previously announced a budget of around 17 billion euros for the next three years, a significant increase but below the 18.5 billion requested by its director general. After tough negotiations, the 22 Member States, gathered for two days in Paris, decided on a framework of 16.9 billion euros, an increase of 17% compared to the last three years.

It is a “great success”greeted the French Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire considering that the budget went “beyond expectation”. Paris teemed with 3.25 billion euros, the other countries’ contributions are not immediately known.

“Given the level of inflation, I am very impressed with this result”for his part, the head of ASE, Josef Aschbacher, confirmed, assessing that the adopted budget was “necessary not to miss the train” in the face of tough American and Chinese competition in particular.

This contribution is intended to finance space exploration programs (€2.7 billion), Earth observation in particular to measure and monitor climate change (€2.7 billion) or even spacecraft, such as upgrades to the Ariane-6 and Vega-C rockets (€2.8 billion euros).

The world with AFP

Leave a Comment