On March 9, 2023, a very inspiring round table took place at La Cité de l’Espace (Toulouse) with Sophie Adenot & Arnaud Prost, the new ESA astronauts, Claudie Haigneré, astronaut/cosmonaut & former French Minister, Didier Schmitt, Head of Strategy & Coordination of ESA Manned Flights, and Lionel Suchet, Deputy Director General of CNES.
During the discussions on stage first and then with the audience, many lessons learned, pieces of advice, personal takeaways have been shared in a very human, sensible and transparent way by the speakers.
Among the key takeaways:
- A long, complex and difficult process before being eligible to become astronauts
- Selection process is however more and more open (gender, age, expertise…)
- France (and notably Toulouse) is a top-location for space with a strong ecosystem (research, engineering, industry, supply chain, expertise, applications…) well sustained by the French State and the European projects and institutions
- Handicap is more and more taken into account for future missions
- Critical role of space regarding Sustainable Development (50% of data used by GIEC are coming from space)
- There are good chances a European astronaut will land on the Moon by 2030
- French and EUropean Space agencies and players are involved in the NASA-led project of Moon Exploration
- Many researches and experiments carried out in space have direct and concrete applications on earth
- Training, resilience, self-motivation, competitive mindset are crucial to become astronaut
This roundtable was an excellent opportunity to learn more about astronauts. Jawad Benstaali, Al Haitam Bouchakor, Thibaut Girard, Nathan Ligaud and Thomas Roux de Bézieux, MSc Aerospace Management students, took this opportunity.
Many thanks to Jean-Luc Moudenc, Toulouse City Mayor and Jean-Claude Dardelet, President of SEMECCEL-Cité de l’espace for their kind invitation.