The human body didn’t evolve for spaceflight, so astronauts have to train hard to get ready for the unique experience of living in microgravity. At the European Astronaut Centre’s well-equipped gym, Euronews met up with astronaut Thomas Pesquet and his trainer André Rosenberger to find out how you get fit for space.
As Thomas is getting ready to fly next year, he has a specific workout plan ahead of him, as André explains: “There are special muscles you need to work on, especially the anti-gravity muscles which are important for upright posture, and walking and running. So for our strength training we focus on the leg muscles and the back muscles.”
The training regime is roughly split 50/50 between aerobic and muscle strength training. “We want to gain muscle, or maintain actually muscle mass, and bone mass, and so it’s more the general fitness which we want to achieve,” says André.
Astronauts are never less than busy, with a packed schedule , but they still have to find time for sport, Thomas says: “You have to exercise as often as you can, maybe not every day, because of the travelling and the training, but at least four times a week.”
The reason for all this preparation? “After six months in space you lose some body mass, you lose some bone mass, you lose some balance. You’re not in great shape when you come back, and that’s the whole point of training for space,” concludes Thomas.
Thomas will launch into space for a 6-month mission from November 2016 on board the ISS. Born in Rouen, France in 1978, Thomas is a black belt in judo with an interest in mountain biking, kite surfing, skiing and mountaineering. With a Master’s degree in spacecraft design and control from the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace, he has worked for French space agency CNES and space engineering company Thales Alenia Space.