Astronaut Thomas Pesquet takes off again… to the Central African Republic

just back to earthFrench astronaut Thomas Pesquet is back in the air, at the controls of a humanitarian plane that took off on Wednesday, April 13, bound for the Central African Republic, said an AFP journalist at Le Bourget airport in Paris.

«I not only wanted to give my image, or send messages of support, but to do something else“, declared the European Space Agency astronaut during a press conference organized before takeoff by the NGO Aviation sans Frontières.

“I would love to go out on the field, because that’s where I really feel useful”

Thomas Pequet

Thomas Pesquet, who returned from his second mission aboard the International Space Station in November, uses his training as an airline pilot for this association, of which he is a sponsor. Aviation sans Frontières delivers food and medicine and carries out medical evacuations for 120 NGOs and international organizations.

Aircraft transported from the United States

«The plane allows to overcome bumpy roads and “highway cutters”“, bandits attacking motorists in Africa, says Jean-Yves Grosse, head of aviation operations at Aviation Sans Frontières.

The plane piloted by the astronaut, a new Cessna Grand Caravan, was flown in February from Kansas, United States. The Frenchman is one of the pilots in charge of taking him to a safe destination, although the NGO did not specify if he would reach the end of the journey. His exact route has also not been revealed, for security reasons.

Continuous training for the performance of missions

To replace its second aging device, the NGO still needs 1.5 million euros, which it seeks to raise thanks to its partners and donations. Thomas Pesquet still needs a few hours of flight time to be fully qualified on the aircraft -he is therefore not the captain- and be able to carry out missions in Bangui, in the Central African Republic, or in Bunia, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. , the two countries where Aviation sans Frontières deploys its aircraft.

«I would love to go to the field, because that is where I really feel useful.Thomas Pesquet told AFP shortly before his departure. Previously, he had worried about the long-term consequences of the war in Ukraine on space cooperation with Russia.

«We clearly see that we are not betting on the cooperation of tomorrow and, unfortunately, in the space sector, projects are developed in five, ten, fifteen years, so the consequences of what is happening right now will be seen in a few years. ; they won’t be positive, that’s for sure“, he lamented.

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