"This exhibition takes you behind the scenes and discover jobs essential to the success of a space mission", confides Claudie Haigneré, astronaut at the European Space Agency (ESA) and sponsor of the Cité de l'Espace in Toulouse (Haute-Garonne). A few days before the takeoff of the Frenchman Thomas Pesquet to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Alpha mission, the Toulouse theme park is already in the stars. Despite its closure due to the health crisis, its teams mobilized for the “Alpha Mission Monitoring” exhibition, from April 22, the day the astronaut left. While waiting for the reopening of the cultural site, the exhibition is accessible online on the Cité de l'Espace site.
Upon entering the new space called "Carré de l'Actu", visitors are immersed in a real control room. A row of computers faces 8 large screens, making it possible to see live where the station is located, to observe daily life on board and to broadcast, always live, events such as arrival in the ISS or extra-vehicular outings. The exhibition features videos by Thomas Pesquet and teams from ESA and the Center National d'Études Spatiales (CNES). "We explain how the experiments are developed and show that we are not working for the astronaut but with him," emphasizes Sébastien Rouquette, head of experiments for the Alpha mission at CNES / CADMOS in Toulouse.About twenty people from CNES worked on Thomas' experiments and about fifty from CADMOS are present to take over and operate the experiments with him in the control room in Toulouse. "
First aid kits… edible!
Before placing their suitcases again in the ISS, Thomas Pesquet and his teammates will fly aboard the Crew Dragon on April 22.
At the Cité de l'Espace, a replica of the capsule of the American company SpaceX is accessible to the public to become aware of the interior of the spacecraft.
A little further on, on an interactive fresco, the different phases of the journey are detailed with humor.
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But it is above all 4 of the 12 experiments that Thomas Pesquet must carry out that the public discovers.
A strange white banner is thus exhibited, under the name of Dream, intended for the study of sleep during long-term manned space missions.
Another original experience: Edible Foam.
This is an edible first aid kit: "The packaging instead of being made of foam, contains bread from Genoa in the lid, gingerbread in the four walls and madeleine at the bottom, details Aude Lesty, responsible for the exhibition.
Once in the ISS, the astronauts will be able to eat them and the only plastic left in the kit is recyclable, which helps to limit waste in the station.
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During the six months of the exhibition, meetings are scheduled, such as Cafés Alpha from April 19 with scientists, engineers, authors or athletes, as well as special events for the highlights of the mission, including the take-off of the French Thursday.