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Yuri Gagarin remains example for all generations of cosmonauts — French astronaut Pesquet

According to Pesquet, the hardest thing in the cosmonaut’s profession is all that happens between the spacecraft’s docking with the station and the air lock chamber's opening
ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV
ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet

PARIS, April 8. /TASS/. The world’s first human in space Yuri Gagarin remains an example for all the generations of cosmonauts, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet told TASS on Thursday.

"For all of us, Yuri Gagarin is a true example to follow. I frequently thought about him during long hours that preceded the launch of our Soyuz in 2016," Pesquet said, recollecting his first mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

"It was a great honor for me to follow his route at the Baikonur Cosmodrome," he said. "I frequently tried to imagine what Yuri Gagarin felt on April 12, 1961," the French astronaut added.

According to Pesquet, "the most difficult thing in the cosmonaut’s profession is all that happens before the air lock chamber opens after a spacecraft’s docking with the station."

"Before this moment of genuine joy, we cannot be guaranteed against personal or technical incidents that may impede us to achieve the assigned goal," the European Space Agency astronaut said.

New view on space exploration

The French astronaut noted that he was always glad to work with his Russian counterparts. "I had an opportunity personally to communicate with some of the new generation of cosmonauts during my stay at the Star City under the Russian program of my training sessions," he said.

As the French astronaut said, "the new generation of cosmonauts is focused on the next stages of space exploration and new tasks in this profession." "I am always glad to communicate with my Russian colleagues, both with experienced cosmonauts and those who make their first steps in space exploration."

April 12 is celebrated as Cosmonautics Day throughout the world. This year will mark the 60th anniversary since a Vostok rocket orbited a Vostok-1 spacecraft with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on its board. Gagarin became the world’s first human in outer space. After making one orbit of the Earth, Gagarin made a landing in the Saratov Region in Russia’s south.

Upcoming mission

Pesquet is currently gearing up for his second flight to the orbital outpost scheduled for April 22. The 43-year-old astronaut will become the first French person who will be assigned the mission of the space station’s commander at one of the flight stages. "For me, it is a great honor and joy to get a proposal to assume the station’s command during my second mission," Pesquet said, commenting on his upcoming space flight.

The French astronaut will travel to the ISS aboard US SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. The astronaut is set to conduct over a hundred experiments and make four spacewalks.

Pesquet who is keen on space photography said that during the upcoming mission he also planned to make new photos of the Earth. "I believe there will be slightly fewer of them than the previous time. During the new mission, I will spend more time on my diary," the French astronaut said.

On the list of the most popular French persons

Pesquet embarked on his first space mission to the International Space Station as part of the ISS expedition 50/51 together with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson aboard a Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in November 2016. The French astronaut and the Russian cosmonaut returned to Earth after 196 days aboard the space station in June 2017. During his stay at the orbital outpost, Pesquet made two spacewalks that lasted a total of 12 hours and 32 minutes.

Pesquet is among the most renowned French astronauts. He has been campaigning to popularize cosmonautics and protect the environment. Pesquet speaks five languages, including Russian. The French astronaut goes in for mountaineering, swimming, mountain biking and also has a black belt in judo.

Last year, Pesquet was listed among the five most popular French nationals in the rating annually published by Le Journal du Dimanche, following a poll of the IFOP public opinion institute. In 2019, Pesquet was decorated with France’s main award: the Legion of Honor order.