Posted Nov 29, 2022, 6:11 PMUpdated Nov. 29, 2022, 6:26 p.m.
Twenty years after Claudie Haigneré, Sophie Adenot, 40, becomes the second Frenchwoman to be selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) from among the 22,523 applications received in 2020. After a one-year recruitment process and nine months, she is now part of the new space promotion of 17 Europeans, including 5 astronauts, unveiled on November 23rd. “A little girl’s dream” she smiled without sulking her pleasure. Before being overtaken by her humility: “I am a total beginner in this profession! I still have everything to learn…”
From April 3, the training pilot will undergo basic training for a year in Cologne, Germany. On the program: survival courses, discovery, explanations and handling of the technologies used by astronauts. And that’s just the beginning. Once appointed for a mission within the ISS (international space station), Sophie Adenot will have to train for two years, in a more specific way and in conditions. For example, astronauts simulate their possible extra-vehicular outings – that is to say operations outside the ISS – as a diver in a swimming pool.
“I will go where I am asked to go”
Not to mention the trips to Florida, to familiarize yourself with the SpaceX ships in which Thomas Pesquet and his American and European peers have recently taken off. Again, cautious, she reminds us that the take-off will not take place before 2026. Many unknowns on her journey. “Today no one can say in which machine we will travel…” She doesn’t even know where she will fly. “I will go where I am asked to go!” » In ESA’s sights: the Moon and the planet Mars.
Carrying out a mission and responding to orders, “the” Lieutenant-Colonel Sophie Adenot (she prefers not to feminize the title) knows how to do. She spent seventeen years in the Air and Space Force flying helicopters. From these military years, she retains patience and discipline. “It’s an institution filled with passionate and exciting people. »
Of propellers and fresh water
Her own thing: helicopters. A passion she discovered during her first job at Airbus Helicopters, in Marignane, in Provence. As an engineer, she designs cockpits, in particular that of the H225 model. “I fell in love with it! » she jokes even today. After watching it so much, she wants to pilot it. In 2005, only the Air Force is equipped with it. So she applied, was received and trained in piloting.
Learning, the native Burgundian loves it. Just take a look at his CV. Sophie Adenot is a graduate of the National School of Aeronautics and Space (Isae-Supaero) in Toulouse. During her studies, she specialized in the flight dynamics of spacecraft and aircraft. At 22, she obtained a master’s degree at the prestigious MIT in Boston where she worked on the design of centrifuges for space training.
Repeated infidelities to H225
In 2019, she became the first female helicopter test pilot, at the Cazaux Air Base Flight Test Center in Gironde. Today, Sophie Adenot has accumulated 3,000 flight hours on 22 different types of helicopters. And by the way, fluent in four languages other than French: English, German, Spanish and Russian.
“I never really stopped studying,” enthuses this very good student. His appetite for studies and the excellence of his career, as well as his consensual character were important criteria for ESA. History that everything is going well, locked together in a capsule thousands of kilometers from Earth. There, she will surely find her classmates: two doctors, an astrophysicist, two engineers (specialized in biomedical and aerospace). “This diversity is a real gift! »
The label of the first pilot who became an astronaut appeals to him more than that of “the first or second woman” to do this or that.. She does not define herself as a “feminist”. Why ? “My professions, pilot and now astronaut, have no gender for me. » In these areas, she says, women are valued as much as men – if not more.
” Why not me ? »
She knows what she owes to the pioneers who “removed the barriers” like Jacqueline Auriol, test pilot and speed record holder or even Claudie Haigneré, first Frenchwoman sent into space in 1996 . “A real click” for little Sophie then aged 14, who wonders: ” Why not me ? »
Throughout her schooling, she scoured forums, events, conferences around space. On these occasions, she sometimes meets her idols, who later become her colleagues. Their advice, from now on, she takes them up on her own: “Do a job that you love, and if you become an astronaut it will be the icing on the cake. »
Now that she’s made it, she’d like being a woman to be a given like any other. Especially since the progress is palpable: in the last European class of ESA, in 2009, her Italian colleague Samantha Cristoforetti was the only woman in her class. They are 2 out of 5 in 2022, and more than half if we count reserve astronauts (8 out of 17).
If Sophie Adenot does not mobilize for the feminist cause, she does on the other hand for equal opportunities. She has been godmother since 2009, alongside Thomas Pésquet , the “OSE l’Isae-Supaero” system, which aims to promote and facilitate access to higher education for middle and high school students from priority neighborhoods and isolated rural areas. One day, a young man came to tell her that it was thanks to her that he had become an engineer. The evocation of this memory splits the armor of this scientist who does not seem to like to pour out too much.
Who pushed her to succeed? His parents. What are they doing ? We will not know more than what Wikipedia says: a notary father and a pharmacist mother who had four children, two of whom, she and her little brother Richard, distinguished Young Leader by the French American Foundation. And she ? Half-word, she confides to being a mother. The astronaut preserves his private life from this media whirlwind which ” disheveled “.
Yoga teacher in his spare time
Did she only know failures? “I don’t really like that word. » She prefers “experiences that did not go as we had imagined” or some “opportunities to learn” she retorts as a faithful heiress of an American culture instilled on the benches of the university. She ends up giving us two examples: at the end of her preparation, she fails the Polytechnique competition, and in 2009 she fails the third stage of the ESA selection. But nothing is lost. “It allowed me to see how the recruitment process was really going. »
A few more years also to dedicate himself to his sporting hobbies. When she’s not skydiving or descending a slope on a mountain bike or on skis, she goes scuba diving or practices yoga. Aficionada for ten years, Sophie Adenot wanted “evolve your practice” by becoming a teacher two years ago. “One yoga class per month, especially for friends”, she details. Something to relax all of his future crew.
First and last name : Sophie Adenot
Age : 40 years
Studies : Lycée de la Légion d’honneur (93), scientific preparation, Isae-Supaero, MIT (Boston, United States)
Occupation : astronaut
Nationality : French
Workplace : Cologne, Germany
Honors : National Order of Merit and Medal of the National Assembly (2022)
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Astronaut Sophie Adenot, a yoga teacher soon to be on the ISS
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