Among the group of 17 European astronauts France is represented by career astronaut Sophie Adenot and astronaut reserve Arnaud Prost.
The “new class”, five of whom will work as career astronauts and 11 will be part of the reserve pool, will be the third group for the European Space Agency – an inter-governmental organisation “dedicated to the exploration of space.”
They will begin with 12 months of basic training at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, before joining the existing corps, and will eventually be able to perform long-duration spaceflight missions, notably aboard the international space station, as well as joining the crews for future missions to the moon.
The space agency also appointed its first disabled astronaut, British Paralympic sprinter John McFall, to be part of the new class. According to the ESA, no major Western agency has ever sent a “parastronaut” to space. McFall lost his right leg in a motorbike accident in 2000.
We are honoured to introduce you to the new generation of ESA astronauts 👨🚀👩🚀 #ESAastro2022
In this new class of 2022 astronauts are five career astronauts, 11 members of the astronaut reserve and one astronaut with a disability.
— ESA (@esa) November 23, 2022
Here’s what you need to know about Sophie;
She was picked out of thousands
Chosen from over 22,500 candidate’s, France’s Sophie Adenot, 40, hails from the Burgundy area in north-east France.
She speaks several languages
Aside from her mother tongue, which is French, Sophie is fluent in English. She also speaks German, Spanish and Russian.
She is also an avid parachutist and yoga teacher
Adenot has several hobbies, including outdoor sports like skiing and mountain biking, but most notably she is also a certified yoga teacher, in addition to having her scuba diving license and being a trained skydiver.
On her profile of the ESA website, Sophie Adenot explained that in addition to all of her experience as a pilot and her hobbies, she also has “fifteen years of experience” in helping to make science more accessible by giving lectures and lessons to children.
She has broken gender barriers
More than twenty years after Claudie Haigneré was named France’s first female astronaut, Adenot will be the second French woman to be a career astronaut with the European Space Agency.
However, she has broken gender barriers before. A trained engineer with specialisation in aircraft flight dynamics, with degrees from MIT in Boston, USA and Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE-SUPAERO) in Toulouse, France, Adenot went on to join the French Air Force in 2005 and become a helicopter pilot. In that role, she worked as a combat search and rescue pilot, having conducted several rescue operations in “hostile or desert environments,” according to Ouest France.
She made history in 2018 when she became France’s first female helicopter test pilot to test prototypes, and in 2021 she was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
Adenot has accumulated more than 3,000 flight hours on 22 different machines.
She was awarded the Order of Merit
In 2022, Adenot received the National Order of Merit and the Medal of the National Assembly (la médaille de l’Assemblée nationale) honouring her actions as an inspirational ambassador for gender equality in science in 2021.