Water falling vertically, dreams… Thomas Pesquet tells about his readjustment to “normal life”

After 199 days spent in orbit more than 400 km around the Earth, the French astronaut from the European Space Agency (ESA) appeared smiling and in “great physical shape” during a press conference broadcast from Cologne . In particular, he recounted the sometimes difficult experience of returning to “normal life” on Earth after these long months spent aboard the space station, as seen in the video below.

Thomas Pesquet’s second stay on board the station “taught him a lot”, with his first experience as a captain. He had to face an “emergency situation” on October 15, with the accidental loss of control of the orientation of the vessel, caused by the inadvertent ignition of a thruster of the Russian vessel Soyuz MS-18, moored to the ‘ISS.

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We had to “respond quickly, what we are training, but in real life, with the station rotating in the sky, and it’s not the same lemonade”, said the astronaut, who was then responsible for “distributing the roles”. This incident was “almost fortunate, because it’s a rewarding experience,” commented the 43-year-old astronaut.

“I had the full experience, I learned a lot,” he continued, congratulating himself on his chance to have made four extra-vehicular outings of which he was the actor and the leader.

Shooting of a Russian movie

His role also saw him “put oil in the wheels”, to accommodate the crew and their work in the presence for a few days of a crew of a Russian film.

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This team, with a professional cosmonaut, a director and an actress, was able to work without hindering the work of the astronauts, thanks to the preparation on the ground. The crew was “very clear” from the arrival of the newcomers, “by agreeing nicely and fairly firmly on the rules” of behavior. “Everything went very well in the end”.

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This second stay on the ISS confirmed Thomas Pesquet in his vision of the crew as “a small space family”. And whose good understanding is essential in the perspective of even longer missions, such as a future trip to Mars.

Besides the “psychological profile” of astronauts and contacts with relatives, Thomas Pesquet believes that “the key is that people are constantly busy”, to avoid thoughts that could “damage morale a little”. Because after all, “the space station, if we have nothing to do, it’s a bit like a prison with a great view, and some funny things like floating”.

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This observatory, where he was already standing more than four years ago during his first mission, also allowed him to observe the negative consequences of human activity, such as pollution. But he says he has seen “many more extreme weather events” this time, such as storms and fires.

Recovery program

Now the astronaut will undergo an intensive recovery program. He estimates himself at 80% of his capacity today and he expects “six months to recover at 100%”.

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In the meantime, he finds some simple pleasures. His colleagues had told him about this “fun experience” of the return shower. Unlike those in the station, where “the droplets go in all directions”, he had “the impression of a supernatural experience”, with “these drops and this water flowing in the same direction”.

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With a question about his dreams to come. Because on the station, “we dream in weightlessness, with somewhat bizarre scenarios but with the rules of the physical environment… while floating”. He expects to return to Earth in the land of dreams within a few days.

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And he still has the same dream – besides that of spending a week without any obligation: to be chosen to be one of the European astronauts who will one day set foot on the Moon.

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