“I am incredibly honored!
», Rejoiced the astronaut, during an online press conference of the European Space Agency (ESA), which assigned him this function of commander in agreement with the other space agencies partners of the ISS ( United States, Russia, Japan and Canada).
This is a first for a French astronaut.
For his second mission in orbit, "Alpha", Thomas Pesquet will be in command of the International Space Station (ISS), for which he is to fly on April 22 from Florida.
Integrated into the European Space Agency (ESA), the French have already made a first stay there, from November 2016 to June 2017.
Thomas Pesquet: "I dream of setting foot on Mars"
400 kilometers above the Earth
At 43, the one who was an airline pilot will make the master decisions some 400 kilometers above the Earth, for about a month, towards the end of his six-month stay.
“It's like a boat, there is only one master on board after God,” commented Thomas Pesquet.
Obviously, there are a lot of things that are decided at the ground control center ", he explained, but" when things go badly and you have to react quickly, it is the commander who decides, who assigns a bit of tasks, for example if we have to deal with an outbreak of fire or depressurization ”.
“I am lucky to be the first Frenchman at the controls of a space vehicle.
It is thanks to history, instead of France and Europe in human space flights, it is recognition for everyone, ”said the astronaut.
The function of commander is performed in turn by the designated members of the ISS crew.
Another first of the “Alpha” mission: Thomas Pesquet will be the first European to join the ISS aboard a private American spacecraft, Space X's Crew-2 Dragon capsule, which is to take off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 22, with three other astronauts (the Americans Megan Mc Arthur and Shane Kimbrough, and the Japanese Akihiko Hoshide).