When will Thomas Pesquet return to Earth?

He is very fond of social networks, Thomas Bisket It does not show anything. The French astronaut continues to regularly post photos of French cities captured from space to tell us behind the scenes of his six-month mission aboard the ship.
International Space Station. The last episode so far
: Harvesting and tasting chili They grew up on board.

Still looking for the long haul? This is Thomas Bisquet She left Earth on April 23 already, On board the Crew 2, the capsule of the American company Space X, accompanied by the three other astronauts who accompanied it (a Japanese and two Americans). So they have already spent more than six months in space.

Should they have been with us already? Not necessarily, answers Olivier Sangui, the scientific mediator of The Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse. “NASA has always given a crossroads for this comeback, between early and mid-November,” he recalls. We are still in this position. “

Planning for Crew2’s return to Earth is still more complex than anticipated. The exact date remains unknown to this day. It is usually conditioned on the arrival of the four astronauts from Crew 3 aboard the International Space Station, including Germany’s Matthias Maurer, who should take over the mission. This is the plan of NASA and Space X A. The ideal scenario. “The idea is for the departing crew and the next crew to coexist on the ISS for a few days – one week at the most,” continues Oliver Sanjoy. This facilitates delivery, especially in ongoing scientific trials. Even if the procedures are strict and everything is noticed, it is always best to be able to exchange the delivery of the wand both visually and symbolically. “

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Crew 3 take off which has a series of setbacks

The concern is that Crew 3’s launch has a series of setbacks. It was initially scheduled to take place last Saturday, before it was postponed to Sunday. Then, the day is approaching, it has been postponed again to next Wednesday 3rd November Bad weather. Not so much in Florida
[où est située la base de lancement américaine]Olivier Sangui says. Much more poor conditions were in the ascent corridor, the area of ​​the bridge that covers the entire Atlantic Ocean to Ireland and over which NASA and Space X believe the capsule can be ejected. [où a pris place l’équipage] If there is a problem with the player. “

Here we are on November 4th and Crew 3 is still in trouble. The error, this time, with a “minor” medical problem encountered by one of the four crew astronauts, reported to NASA, without saying more about the nature of that problem or the identity of the astronaut affected, in order to respect medical confidentiality.

Plan B: Don’t wait for the next generation

It’s now scheduled to take off on Saturday at 11 p.m. FL, or about 4.30 a.m., Saturday through Sunday at our venue. But NASA presents this date as the earliest opportunity [« earliest opportunity »] Olivier Sangui warns. In other words, you remain vulnerable to potential new postponements. “It is possible,” continues the scientific mediator at the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse. Weather reports, particularly from Patrick Air Force Base, a US military base located in Florida, are announcing a fairly high probability of unfavorable weather conditions once again. ”

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He told us that windows release will still be possible at the beginning of next weekEuropean Space Agency (ESA). But if these opportunities are missed, NASA and Space X will have to switch to Plan B: bring Crew 2 back to Earth without waiting for rest. Not that food is in danger of running out or that astronauts cannot stay more than six months on the International Space Station, even if one can imagine that these frequencies on their return date should affect their morale. By evoking his first mission aboard the International Space Station [il y était déjà resté six mois, de novembre 2016 à juin 2017]Thomas Pesquet had mentioned this impatience to return to Earth when we know the time to return is approaching,” recalls Olivier Sangui.

In an interview with Emmanuel Macron This Thursday, on Twitter, Anyway, Thomas Pesquet said to take those doubts away when he returns on the safe side. “When you embark on a mission like this, you know it can happen,” he explains, before presenting these days of the Lord as “blessing.” Admittedly, the French astronaut says he still has work, “but the to-do list is really advanced, so it also lets you take days off.” It’s like an airlock before I get back down to earth and reunite with my loved ones and family. “

Don’t make the capsule wait too long

The need not to delay this return so much that it responds so much to a humanitarian imperative as to technical considerations. This Crew 2 capsule, which sent Thomas Pesquet and his three partners to the International Space Station on April 23, has been moored there ever since. “However, it was specifically designed for this mission which is scheduled to last six months,” explains Olivier Sangui. This does not mean that it becomes unusable after this time. But in space, we don’t like to play on the fringes of safety. “

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If this plan “B” is activated, the International Space Station, which has been permanently occupied since 2000, will not be uninhabited by the time of the arrival of the 3 crew. And that’s to forget the Russians Anton Chkaplerov and Peter Dubrov, as well as the American Mark T. Vande Hee, all three have arrived On board the Russian Soyuz shipsWho will be there to welcome the next generation.

Stan Shaw

<p class="sign">"Professional food nerd. Internet scholar. Typical bacon buff. Passionate creator."</p>

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