At 40, Sophie Adenot is the second Frenchwoman to become an astronaut, after Claudie Haigneré.
This Air Force lieutenant-colonel, helicopter pilot, passed the tough selection to be part of the profiles selected by the European Space Agency (Esa) among the 22,500 candidates.
“We knew that Sophie Adenot had her chances, because she ticked a lot of boxes.
But there are many former students in the running and we followed several of them.
She is not the only one selected”, proudly underlines Olivier Lesbre, director of Isae-Supaero.
The Toulouse engineering school, specializing in aeronautics and space, still has two former students in the list of reserve astronauts with the Frenchman Arnaud Prost and the Italian Anthea Comellini.
A new group shot for Isae-Supaero after the last recruitment, in 2009, of Thomas Pesquet, Luca Parmitano and Samantha Cristoforetti, also passed through the Pink City.
We can even go back to 1992, when Jean-François Clervoy became an astronaut.
Read alsoFrance will invest 9 billion euros over three years in the space sector
“An astronaut is not someone specialized.
He needs a variety of skills, both technical and human, because it takes a lot of patience, perseverance and good communication skills, explains Olivier Lesbre.
And that corresponds quite well to what the Isae-Supaero offers.
It is obviously a great satisfaction.
Frenchwoman Sophie Adenot is one of five new career astronauts who have been named.
For the director, the transversal approach, scientifically very broad, of the Toulouse school, is undoubtedly an asset for former students in the face of their competitors who have gone through more university courses and more concentrated on a specific field.
He also highlights the establishment's desire to give its students the best possible experience on a human level, "with many associations, clubs, which encourage them to work as a team, to manage projects".
Olivier Lesbre notably mentions Supaero Space Section, which allows young people to build rockets, or the Mars club, which sends students to Utah for simulations of Martian life.
“For someone in Europe who is wondering about going into space one day, it is undoubtedly at the Isae-Supaero that he will have the best chance of getting there.
This is a school for space enthusiasts.
A real community
But this success is no doubt also explained by the involvement of former students in the life of the school and the links they maintain with it.
Like Thomas Pesquet before her, Sophie Adenot is godmother of the Ose-L'Isae-Suapero program, which encourages young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods, rural areas and young girls to consider scientific studies.
"Esa is looking for people who are outgoing, and that's what we cultivate in our establishment
, points out the director, who hopes that the selection of the French astronaut, and especially his first mission, will have an impact on the proportion of young women in the Toulouse school, today only 20 to 25%.
Isae-Supadro, the student house buildings.
International openness, with a mandatory period of 6 to 8 months abroad, and integration into the world of business and industry are two other points which, according to Olivier Lesbre, may explain why the Isae-Supaero trains as many future astronauts.
“We also encourage gap years, which arouse the spirit of curiosity in our students.
It is a great pleasure to see that the work carried out here can allow young people to have similar trajectories.
“Becoming an astronaut is a dream”
A career that makes Maxime Jalabert, a 3rd year engineering student at the school, dream.
Passionate about space since his early childhood, he had his first telescope at the age of 8 and dreams, why not, of one day being in the place of his glorious elders.
“We have stars in our eyes.
We definitely identify.
Especially since on my small scale, I have a path somewhat similar to that of Sophie Adenot", smiles the one who did a stint at Yale (
famous American university
) and will do his end-of-study internship at the Nasa, where the French astronaut graduated from MIT.
Read alsoExploit the resources of space?
France says “yes”
But he keeps his feet on the ground.
“Becoming an astronaut is a dream, but not a goal.
The idea is to participate in space exploration, which goes beyond us individually.
If the opportunity arises one day, I will try my luck, like all enthusiasts.
But behind the astronauts who shine, it's a collective effort, ”insists the young man, who is currently focusing on rocket propulsion.
But he assures him, "Isae-Supaero gives you all the tools to make a good career as an astronaut".