End of mission for Thomas Pesquet. After a six-month stay in the International Space Station (ISS), the French astronaut will return to dry land in the coming days.
We explain to you how his return will unfold among us and what his program will be once on Earth.
Read also: VIDEO. Thomas Pesquet back to the ISS: “I have found my second home”
1. When will Thomas Pesquet return to Earth?
Contrary to what had been initially announced, it is not at the end of October that Thomas Pesquet will return to Earth, but at the beginning of November.
Because if the crew that will relay that of the French will leave Florida on October 31, it will not arrive on board the ISS until November 1, as NASA recalls on its site. Moreover, as explained to West France the European Space Agency (ESA), it will take several days for the two “crews” to organize the handover.
In the best case scenario (the one where the weather allows the team to land safely), the departure of Thomas Pesquet, who was the captain of the ISS during his last month on board, will not occur. therefore not before the first weekend of November, either November 6 or 7.
The official date will not be announced by NASA until a few days before the deadline.
2. How will his return unfold?
After leaving the ISS, the SpaceX capsule in which Thomas Pesquet and his companions will have boarded will head for Earth and will eventually land, probably off Florida. Boats already present in the area will then retrieve the capsule and the astronauts.
On the ESA side, we note that this operation is by nature technically more complicated than the landing of a Soyuz capsule, which Thomas Pesquet had experienced in 2017, at the end of his first mission in the ISS. A difficulty increased by the fact that this maneuver will only be the second of its kind for SpaceX. The first, subject of the video below, took place in early May.
3. What will he do immediately after the landing?
After being picked up by ships dispatched to the scene, the astronauts will be transported by helicopter to Florida.
According to information communicated by ESA to West France, they will then fly to Houston, Texas. A city in which Thomas Pesquet should only stay a handful of hours, the time to pass the first biological tests.
These are particularly important because they occur very shortly after the crew’s return to Earth and are therefore decisive in the study of the re-acclimatization of astronauts to terrestrial conditions.
4. What will be his program in the coming weeks?
After this brief stay in America, Thomas Pesquet will return to the European Astronaut Center in Cologne (Germany). He will stay there for about three weeks then will be entitled to a week of vacation, before returning to Houston at the beginning of December.
According to this draft calendar, Thomas Pesquet should therefore not participate in any public event in France by the end of the year.