Astronauts roundtable : Can astronauts challenge time?
Jean-François Clervoy, successively active French, NASA and European astronaut for 33 years ranks as brigadier general from DGA (Defense procurement agency) reserve. Born in 1958, JFC graduated from Ecole Polytechnique in 1981, from SupAero college of Aeronautics in 1983 and from Test flying school in 1987. He flew on three missions aboard the space shuttle: in 1994 to study the atmosphere, in 1997 to resupply the Russian space station Mir, and in 1999 to repair the Hubble space telescope. Then JFC worked as senior advisor for the ESA human space flight programs and is chairman of Novespace which organizes weightlessness parabolic flights aboard the Airbus A310 ZERO-G. He is author, inventor and professional speaker. He is member of several organizations for the promotion of space exploration and for the protection of planet Earth.
The countdown starts early. At the beginning of the selection to become an astronaut, or even as soon as the idea of making the trip out of the atmosphere crosses the mind of the candidate. Everything is then linked, step by step, success after success, until the ultimate consecration when the contender is part of the team, the one that brings together extraordinary human beings, ready to follow the training mission for an adventure into space. Many months of intensive preparation, with a meticulously planned program, still separate the future hero from the last seconds of the countdown. The astronaut has to keep making progress every day. A few hours before they take off, the crew are placed into quarantine. On the launching ramp, curled up in their seats, they will be propelled into space within the deadline imposed by the launching procedure. In less than nine minutes, they will travel at an orbital speed of 28,000 km / h and will pass around the Earth 16 times each day. The real mission has just begun. Whether it is to ensure proper operation of the instruments, to repair them, to carry out scientific experiments, to communicate with Earth, to interact with their teammates, to sleep, to eat, the astronauts evolve at a certain pace, a pace which is imposed upon them by the trials of space. Although they are very busy, the return to Earth, close to where their loved ones reside can sometimes seem so far away. At each stage, even during an extravehicular exit or the return trip to Earth: is it possible for astronauts to challenge time?