May 30, 2024


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The European Space Agency adds 5 new astronauts

The European Space Agency adds 5 new astronauts

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — Last year, there were five suitable, Academically excellent men and women They were spun in centrifuges, submerged for hours, temporarily deprived of oxygen, taught to camp in the snow, and taught physiology, anatomy, astronomy, meteorology, robotics, and the Russian language.

On Monday, the five Europeans and an Australian graduated from basic training with a new title: astronaut.

At a ceremony held in Cologne, Germany, the European Space Agency added the five new arrivals to the team of astronauts qualified for missions to the International Space Station, bringing the total number to 11.

The European Space Agency has negotiated with NASA for three spots on future Artemis lunar missions, although those spots will likely go to older astronauts, according to ESA Director General Joseph Aschbacher. The agency is also supplying the service module for the Orion crew capsule. The European Space Agency relies on NASA and others to get its astronauts into space.

This is only the fourth batch of astronauts since 1978 for the 22-nation agency, selected from 22,500 applicants. Twelve others were selected as reservists, but were not sent to basic training. Not surprisingly, the five had resumes full of advanced scientific and medical degrees, military training, experience flying airplanes, helicopters, gliders, and balloons, and “recreational” activities such as canoeing, diving, hiking, skydiving, biking, sailing, and kayaking.

Aschbacher said the group formed a “very good team” free of personal rivalry. “I told them, ‘One of you will fly first and the other will fly,’ and they accepted that, of course, but from the heart, not just words… The team spirit is very clear.”

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Sophie Adino, a French Air Force helicopter test pilot, said the group was a “fantastic crew and a great team.” The moment that struck her the most was leaving the airlock of an underwater spacewalk simulation when the instructor said, “Welcome to space.”

“And for me it was amazing, it gave me goosebumps. … In a few years, I will be in space, not in the water with safe divers.

When a girl dreamed of traveling to space, “I lost count of the number of people who told me that dream will never come true. You have unrealistic dreams, and it will never happen. …Listen to yourself and don't listen to people who don't believe in you.”

In addition to Adnot, the ESA category consists of:

– Pablo Alvarez Fernandez, a Spanish aeronautical engineer who worked on the Rosalind Franklin Mars rover intended for a joint mission with Russia that was suspended after the invasion of Ukraine;

— Rosemary Cogan, a British astronomer who has researched radiation emissions from black holes;

— Raphael Leguis, a Belgian biomedical engineer and neuroscientist who researches degenerative diseases of the nervous system, and also flies hot air balloons and gliders;

— Marco Alain Sieber, a Swiss emergency doctor who achieved the rank of sergeant as a paratrooper while serving in the Swiss Army.

The group was joined by Catherine Pennell Page from Australia, who underwent training under a cooperation agreement between Australia and the European Space Agency. She is still employed by the Australian Space Agency. It is up to the Australian agency to find a way for her to travel into space.

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Their year-long basic training included preparing for the hostile environment they face in space. They were exposed to multiple times the force of gravity in a centrifuge, and spent hours underwater using scuba gear to float around life-sized models of space station modules to simulate operating in zero gravity.

They learned how to recognize the symptoms of hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, by experiencing it themselves in a hypobaric chamber. Survival training included dealing with the possibility of falling water into the ocean and staying warm in the winter while waiting to recover should a landing go off course. On top of that came academic work on scientific topics and learning about space station units and equipment.

Intensive Russian remains part of the program, although ESA has suspended work with Russia except on the space station, where one of the working languages ​​is Russian.