Thomas Pesquet

Thomas Gautier Pesquet (French pronunciation: [tɔma gotje pɛskɛ]; born 26 February 1978 in Rouen) is a French aerospace engineer, pilot, and European Space Agency astronaut. Pesquet was selected by ESA as a candidate in May 2009,[1] and he successfully completed his basic training in November 2010.[2] From November 2016 to June 2017, Pesquet was part of Expedition 50 and Expedition 51 as a flight engineer.[3] Pesquet returned to space in April 2021 on board the SpaceX Crew Dragon for a second six-month stay on the ISS.

Thomas Pesquet
Thomas Gautier Pesquet

(1978-02-26) 26 February 1978
OccupationEngineer, Airline pilot
Space career
CNES/ESA Astronaut
Time in space
Currently in space
Selection2009 ESA Group
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
33 hours
MissionsSoyuz MS-03 (Expedition 50/51), SpaceX Crew-2 (Expedition 65/66)
Mission insignia

Personal life

Pesquet was born in Rouen, France and considers Dieppe his hometown. He is the younger of two brothers. Pesquet is a black belt in judo and lists basketball, jogging, swimming and squash as his favourite sports. He is an outdoor and adventure activities enthusiast, and enjoys mountain biking, kite surfing, sailing, skiing and mountaineering. He also has extensive experience with, and holds advanced licenses in, both scuba diving and parachuting. His other interests include travelling, playing the saxophone and reading. He is a supporter of the France national football team.[4] Anne Mottet is his partner.[5]


Pesquet graduated from the Lycée Pierre Corneille in Rouen,[6] France, in 1996.

In 2001, he received a master's degree from the École nationale supérieure de l'aéronautique et de l'espace in Toulouse, France, majoring in space systems and space vehicle mechanics. He spent his final year before graduation at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, Canada, as an exchange student on the Aeronautics and Space Master.

Pesquet graduated from the Air France flight school in 2006. This led to an Airline Transport Pilot License-Instrument Rating (ATPL-IR).

He speaks French, English, Spanish, Chinese, German and Russian, and is a member of the French Aeronautics and Astronautics Association (3AF), and of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).


Pesquet training for NEEMO 18.

From October 2001, Pesquet worked as a spacecraft dynamics engineer on remote sensing missions for GMV, S.A. in Madrid, Spain.

Between 2002 and 2004, Pesquet worked at the French space agency, CNES, as a research engineer on space missions autonomy. He also carried out various studies on future European ground segment design and European space technology harmonization. From late 2002, he was a representative of CNES at CCSDS, the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems, working on the topic of cross-support between international space agencies.

A private pilot, he was selected in 2004 for Air France's flight training programme. He went on to become a commercial pilot for the French airline, where he started flying the Airbus A320 in 2006. He has logged more than 2000 hours flying time on various commercial airliners, and has qualified as a type-rating flight instructor on the A320, and as a Crew Resource Management instructor.

In 2018, Pesquet gained his Airbus A310 type rating and is qualified as a Novespace Zero-G aircraft pilot.

ESA career

Pesquet was selected as a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut in May 2009. He joined ESA in September 2009 and successfully completed Astronaut Basic Training in November 2010. Pesquet is the youngest member of the European Astronaut Corps, and the last of the ESA astronaut class of 2009 to arrive in space.

On 10 June 2014, NASA announced that Pesquet would serve as an aquanaut aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory during the NEEMO 18 undersea exploration mission, which began on 21 July 2014 and lasted nine days.[7][8] He has also taken part in ESA's CAVES[9] underground course in 2011[10] and NASA's SEATEST II mission in 2013, furthering his experience in exploration.

In 2014, Thomas was chosen by ESA for a six-month mission to the International Space Station starting in November 2016.[11] Thomas was also the backup to ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen who flew to the International Space Station on a 10-day flight in September 2015.

Expedition 50/51

Pesquet during EVA on January 13, 2017

Pesquet launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome onboard Soyuz MS-03 on November 17, 2016. He spent six months on the International Space Station as part of Expedition 50/51. Arriving at the ISS on November 19, 2016, he was the first French astronaut since Léopold Eyharts helped install the Columbus European laboratory module during Expedition 16. His arrival marked the beginning of the European Proxima mission.[12]

Pesquet (left) and fellow crew members Peggy Whitson (right) and Oleg Novitsky

The Proxima mission included 50 science experiments for ESA and CNES. The mission was named after Proxima Centauri, continuing the French astronauts' tradition of naming the missions after stars and constellations. The X inside the logo symbolizes that Pesquet is the tenth French astronaut as well as the unknown. The Proxima mission name was chosen in a competition, with the winning name given by 13-year-old Samuel Planas from Toulouse, France. The mission logo was designed by Thomas Pesquet and Karen Oldenburg.[13]

Pesquet performed his first EVA with astronaut Shane Kimbrough on January 13, 2017. During the EVA, they prepared the infrastructure to replace the ISS batteries. The EVA lasted for 5 hours and 58 minutes.[14]

Pesquet holding a photo of ESA colleague Tim Peake holding a photo of fellow ESA astronauts

On March 23, 2017, Pesquet performed his second career EVA with Shane Kimbrough. The main objective was to prepare the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3) for installation of the second International Docking Adapter (IDA), which will accommodate future commercial crew vehicle dockings. The PMA-3 provides the pressurized interface between the station modules and the docking adapter. Expedition 50 Commander Kimbrough and Pesquet disconnected cables and electrical connections on PMA-3 to prepare for its robotic move on March 26, 2017. PMA-3 will be moved from the port side of the Tranquility module to the space-facing side of the Harmony module, where it will become home for the docking adapter, which will be delivered on a future flight of a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship. The spacewalkers also installed on the starboard zero truss (ITS) a new computer relay box equipped with advanced software for the adapter. The two spacewalkers lubricated the latching end effector on the Canadarm2 robotic arm, inspected a radiator valve suspected of a small ammonia leak and replaced cameras on the Japanese segment of the outpost. Radiators are used to shed excess heat that builds up through normal space station operation. The EVA lasted for 6 hours and 34 minutes.[15]

On June 2, 2017, MS-03 undocked from the ISS, carrying Pesquet and Novitskiy back to Earth, concluding a 196-day mission in space. Peggy Whitson remained on the ISS and returned on Soyuz MS-04. MS-03 touched down just over 3 hours after undocking, concluding Pesquet's first spaceflight. Pesquet has spent 196 days, 17 hours and 49 minutes in space.[16]

Expedition 65/66

On 11 March 2020, ESA announced in a blog post that Pesquet would return to the ISS in the second half of 2021 for a second six-month stay, in which he would become the first European astronaut to launch on board an American Commercial Crew Vehicle.[17]

He was scheduled to travel to the Johnson Space Center in Texas to begin training for his flight by the end of March 2020, although in mid-March 2020 he stated on his Instagram story that due to the COVID-19 pandemic he would delay his trip to Houston.[18] He arrived in Houston, alongside German ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov on 12 May 2020.[19]

On 29 April 2020, ESA announced a competition to name Pesquet's mission; the winner will be announced in summer 2020 and will receive a signed mission patch flown to the ISS by Pesquet.[20]

On July 28, 2020, Pesquet was officially assigned to the SpaceX Crew-2 mission, which launched on 23 April 2021.[21] He is travelling to the International Space Station alongside NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough, who is commanding the Crew Dragon, Megan McArthur, as the pilot, and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. Once on board the station, they will join ISS Expedition 65.[22][23][24] A few hours before the announcement, Pesquet revealed his second mission name as Alpha, after Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to the Sun, following the French mission naming tradition.[23]

Goodwill Ambassador

On 12 April 2021, Thomas Pesquet was nominated Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.[25]

See also

  • French space program


  1. New class of European astronauts report for training
  2. Graduation ceremony for ESA's new astronauts
  3. ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet will fly to the International Space Station in 2016 17 March 2014
  4. "Euro 2021 : comment Thomas Pesquet pourra suivre le match Portugal-France depuis l'espace". (in French). Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  5. Lycée Pierre Corneille de Rouen - History
  6. "NASA Announces Two Upcoming Undersea Missions". NASA. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  7. Bergin, Chris (11 June 2014). "NEEMO returns with two new underwater missions". NASASpaceflight. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  8. "Speleology as an analogue to space exploration: The ESA CAVES training programme". Acta Astronautica. 184: 150–166. 2021-07-01. doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2021.04.003. ISSN 0094-5765.
  9. "Astronauts cave crew returns to earth". CBS. 21 September 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  10. "ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet will fly to the International Space Station in 2016". ESA. 17 March 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  11. "ESA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet arrives at the International Space Station". ESA. 19 November 2016.
  12. "Proxima Mission Logo". ESA. 12 November 2015.
  13. "Second Spacewalk of 2017 Successfully Complete". NASA. January 13, 2017. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  14. "Astronauts carry out first of three station spacewalks". CBS news. March 24, 2017. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  15. Garcia, Mark (June 2, 2017). "Expedition 51 Crew Back on Earth After 196 Days". NASA.
  16. "Thomas starts training for second space mission". ESA - Exploration. 2020-03-11. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  17. Goya, Chisato (2020-03-27). "Thomas Pesquet informe que la préparation pour sa deuxième mission spatiale est en 'stand-by'". Business Insider France (in French). Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  18. "Space Shuttle Almanac". Twitter. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  19. "Thomas Pesquet's 'Alpha' mission patch - collectSPACE: Messages". Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  20. "NASA, SpaceX to Launch Second Commercial Crew Rotation Mission to International Space Station". NASA. 29 January 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  21. "JAXA星出彰彦宇宙飛行士の国際宇宙ステーション(ISS)長期滞在 搭乗機決定について". JAXA. 28 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  22. "Thomas Pesquet first ESA astronaut to ride a Dragon to space". ESA Science & Exploration. 28 July 2020.
  23. Potter, Sean (28 July 2020). "NASA Announces Astronauts to Fly on SpaceX Crew-2 Mission to Space Station". NASA. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  24. "FAO Website". Food and Agriculture Organization.
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