First a colossal crackle, then silence. When suddenly, this Thursday at 13:31, a voice replies (finally) in English: “Here ISS, I can hear you very well, it’s over.” It’s the entire Centrale-Supélec amphitheater in Gif-sur-Yvette, on the Saclay Plateau, who sighs with relief: The scheduled link with Thomas Pesquet is working. The French astronaut responded directly from space to questions from 14 students from the Albert Camus College in La Norville and five students from the University of Paris-Saclay.
This extraordinary exchange can be organized because on Thursday, June 17, the International Space Station (ISS) passed one of the campuses of the University of Paris-Saclay, allowing radio communication with Thomas Bisquet, who was barely recovered from an EVO walk. The day before for more than 7 hours. A “unique opportunity” that the university does not want to miss. But with a station rotating at 28,000 km/h (it orbits the Earth in 90 minutes), it’s in your best interest not to miss the shooting window: ten minutes from 1:30 p.m.
It is ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) and the F5KEE Club in Viry-Chatillon that guarantee the technology and connectivity with the ISS. Barely 30 seconds of delay, the connection is made. And in order not to waste time, the questions have been prepared and tied in turn in perfect perfection. With, every time, the famous “over” to indicate the end of each intervention.
Louis, from Albert Camus College in La Norville, asks the first question: “Hi Thomas, here is Louis, did you feel the same feelings on the second take-off as on the first?” Hi Louis, listen, it was even more impressive because I knew what to expect, It’s like a parachute jump, but I was also more relaxed so I took advantage of that, more so. “
Dorian inquires if Thomas Pesquet has had his reactions back on his return to the International Space Station. “It’s like cycling, it takes a few minutes to get your balance back, but then it stops again. ‘What’s more complicated about weightlessness,’” Anna wonders. “For example, if you want to open a box of chocolates, everything goes in Everywhere, on Earth, things are made to stay in place thanks to their weight, here in space we don’t have that, it’s very difficult to control,” answers Thomas Bisquet.
“We adapt to weightlessness”
Inas stays on the topic of weightlessness to find out how it affects the five senses. “Good question, Ines,” Thomas Pesquet said to her, “to the touch it does not change much, we move a little with our feet, like monkeys clinging to trees.” In fact, it’s fluid that no longer circulates in the same way in your body, your head is swollen, your nose is a little blocked, so your sense of smell decreases, your eyesight can change a little, a lot of changes, we’re adjusting to weightlessness. “
The French astronaut also explains to Sarah the experiments he is carrying out aboard the International Space Station: experiments in medicine, biology, plants, microscopic earthworms… and assures Elliott that what fascinates him more than space, “it’s infinity.” To Gabriel, who admired him and asked him what advice to give to future candidates, Thomas Pesquet replied: “You have to do well in school, but it is not. You have to be interested in a lot of things, sports, travel, speaking several languages. , Being European… Above all, you have to start. I came from a small village, from an ordinary family, and managed to become an astronaut.”
He was also able to reassure Raphael Hamon, a chemist, who, along with Chef Thierry Marx, prepared gourmet dishes to eat at the resort. “I really enjoy it,” says Thomas Pesquet. Not every day, but every now and then, again. “
What a complete happiness to hear Thomas Bisquet’s voice.
After 9 minutes 30 seconds, the connection is disconnected. “You performed like animals, I congratulate Hervé Doll, Professor and Physicist at the Institute of Astrophysics at the University of Paris-Saclay. Stress gave way to emotion. What a complete happiness to hear the voice of Thomas Pesquet.”
He’s not the only one floating on a cloud. Ines and Anna, two fifth-year students at La Norville College, can’t believe it. “We managed to talk to a great French astronaut,” the young girls smiled. Not everyone is so lucky. For us, this is a great bonus. “
Because in its creation, space is definitely an option. “In 2016, we participated in the Proxima mission,” explains Laure Harrell, professor of mathematics and coordinator of “space” classes at Albert Camus College. Voluntary organizations carried out scientific experiments at the same time as Thomas Pesquet. It rained so much that we continued. In the “Space” classes, middle school students learn 3D modeling, in particular the International Space Station, but also to program …
In addition to the live broadcasts on his YouTube channel and L’Esprit sorcier channel (with famous presenter Fred Courant co-hosting the event with Gilles Dawidowicz of the Astronomical Society of France) and middle and high school students from Massy, Arpajon, Grigny and Dourdan were also able to attend the discussions and tests and presentations by various specialists (eg astronauts Claudie Heinerey and Michel Tonini). More than 22,000 people have already watched this video dedicated to the space.
You can relive the event on YouTube at this address