Astronaut - ESA
Astronauts roundtable : Can astronauts challenge time?
Jean-Pierre Haigneré was selected as an astronaut by the CNES in September 1985. From 1986 to 1989 he headed the Manned Flight Division of the Hermes and Manned Flight Directorate, and took part in preliminary studies for the Hermes spaceplane. From December 1990 Jean-Pierre Haigneré underwent training at Star City, near Moscow, as a back-up crewmember for the French-Russian Antares spaceflight. He was selected as prime crew for the Altaïr mission in 1992, undergoing seven month training for a 21-day mission on board the Mir space station, which successfully took place from 1 to 22 July 1993. In 1995 and 1996, he was involved at the Kaliningrad Russian Space Control Centre in the operational aspects of the ESA Euromir 95 and French Cassiopée manned spaceflights. He then returned to France where he was in charge, as test pilot, of flight assessment of the new Airbus Zero-G aircraft. From 1997 till end of June 1998 Jean-Pierre Haigneré trained at Star City for the 6th French-Russian "Pegase" spaceflight. In June 1998, Jean-Pierre Haigneré joined ESA's European astronaut corps, whose homebase is ESA's European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. On 20 February 1999 the Soyuz TM29 was launched with Haigneré and his crew to the MIR station for the Perseus mission. He performed a six-months mission with Viktor Afanasyev and Sergej Avdeyev. They left MIR uninhabited in a stand-by mode and landed in Kazakhstan on 28 August 1999. In November 1999 he was assigned Head of the Astronaut Division at the EAC, Cologne.
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?