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Return to earth for France's astronaut photographer

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Return to earth for France's astronaut photographer

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet is about to wrap up his six-month stay on the International Space Station.

The 39-year-old will make the return journey with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy in a Soyouz MS-03 capsule.

The return is schedule for today at 16h central European time in the Kayazh Steppe, northen Kazakhstan.

During his months aboard the ISS, the Frenchman made two space walks and took part in dozens of experiments for NASA and the European Space Agency.

Pesquet shared his mission on social networks, notably with his 500,000 Twitter followers.

Jeremy Wilks, Euronews’ space correspondent said: “Thomas has done a brilliant job of sharing his time on the ISS with everyone on Earth, and has become a massive star in his native France in the process.

“His work on social media, backed up by a team on the ground, has really brought the astronaut experience to life for many people who have never followed space news before.

“Once landed he’ll be taking the short route home, flying from the Kazakh Steppe straight back to his base in Cologne. So around 2am tonight he’ll arrive at what’s known as the Envihab facility, a high-tech space research centre next door to the European Astronaut Centre, and there he’ll have his first good sleep on planet Earth for six months.

“Within a few days he should be walking around just fine, although some astronauts have reported feeling queasy from the gravity, a kind of ‘Earth sickness’ for a while after return.”

Just before his departure Pesquet tweeted that he had the most “intense adventure of my life”.

He went on to say: “It’s been a fantastic adventure and amazing ride. We got a lot of work done up here. Now it’s time to come back to the planet.”

When not taking part in experiments or space walks he spent his spare time listening to music or playing his saxophone. He even collaborated on a music video.

He also took some stunning photos that are literally out of this world.

Wilks added: “Thomas is the last of ESA’s ‘Class of 2009’ astronauts to fly to space, and although he’s coming home today, this won’t be the end of his space career.

“His ESA colleague, German astronaut Alexander Gerst, is scheduled to fly to the ISS as commander in May 2018, and Thomas can also expect to have another chance to head into orbit in the next five years.

“In the meantime he’ll spend a few months as a kind of travelling ambassador for space exploration, and then continue work at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne on developing future missions, perhaps even flying further from Earth than the ISS, to the Moon and beyond.”

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