'Most fantastic time of my life' - French astronaut Pesquet reflects on space mission

'Most fantastic time of my life' - French astronaut Pesquet reflects on space mission
By Damon Embling
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Hanging on the outside of the ISS, just by two fingers.. That was the most extreme experience I ever had."


He spent six months on the International Space Station. French astronaut Thomas Pesquet is a celebrity at home and known the world over for his mission hundreds of kilometres above Earth.

And now, just over a year after arriving back on solid ground, he’s been inspiring the next generation to reach for the stars - sharing his out-of-this-world experiences with school children at the Euro Space Centre in Belgium.

Pesquet speaks to Euronews' Damon Embling

"The most fantastic time of my life"

Reflecting on his time in space, Pesquet told Euronews correspondent Damon Embling: "It was the most fantastic time of my life. Seen from orbit, the Earth is so small and tiny and isolated and that's what we can't really understand, what we can't grapple when we're here on Earth.

"Going out the door, in a space suit, for a space walk, that was fantastic. Hanging on the outside of the ISS, just by two fingers and watching below my feet 450 kilometres of void. That was the most extreme experience I ever had."

"I could smell the cologne of the people"

Pesquet - an astronaut with the European Space Agency (ESA) - also remembers clearly how his senses went crazy went he came back to earth in a Soyuz capsule in June 2017.

"I was very happy, very relieved. I was not feeling very good physically because coming back to Earth after six months without feeling the effects of gravity is very difficult," he said.

"But actually though the feeling is like everything had been put to maximum, like the smells. I could smell the cologne of the people, picking me up from the capsule. The colours, the contrasts, everything was put to maximum. That's the kind of feeling I had when coming back to Earth."

"There is a huge potential of dream"

Thomas’ passion for space clearly left a mark on his young audience in Belgium.

One boy said: "I really liked Thomas and he inspires me to want to go to space, because it looks incredible. You are floating in the air and I really want to do that."

A girl added: "I think this was really great because he went to space. And when we enter another universe, it's good. I also want to do it."

Pesquet takes pride in sharing his experiences with young people, encouraging them to realise their "dream."

"We manage to inspire young people across Europe, mostly in France yes, but all across Europe which is good, because there is a huge potential of dream in what we do in space," he said.

"This is not only something very dry, very technical, very scientific, this also has the potential to inspire people to achieve their dreams and go out and try hard and try to do their best. And I would certainly encourage them to do so."

Another space mission?

So what is next for Thomas Pesquet? Will he head back to space again for another mission?

"It takes a huge amount of work on the ground to make some people fly to space, so now I am doing my part and I will continue to do so until maybe they call my number again, in which case I'll be the happiest young man on Earth," he said.

"We have the ISS until 2024 at least, because everybody committed, so I am hoping before that date I get a second chance, maybe if I stay healthy."

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