Thomas Pesquet is a French astronaut , presented as a “national hero”, whose work is on the International Space Station he has been orbiting for two decades. In a talk at the theater of the French Institute in Madrid, he explained how zero gravity affected his body and what life is like in space with his companions, where they throw garbage and how they eat.
Since 2000, the space station has had visits from different astronauts. Pesquet is the representative of the European Space Agency and was part of Expedition 50 along with two companions, Peggy Whiston and Oleg Novitskiy.
Life on the International Space Station is surrounded by scientific research, equipment changes or repairs, space exploration and physical training to avoid losing muscle and bone mass.
Pesquet and his companions are dedicated to studying how the laws govern in space and preparing a hypothetical future in which humanity can leave Earth.
“Even if we love our jobs, they don’t tell us to have a good time,” he says.
The expert explained what returning to Earth is like and how difficult it is to adapt . “When you arrive, you have to learn again to do everyday things that you know how to do on Earth, but not in space: eat, drink, wash, sleep… you have to unlearn everything and start from scratch”
What is it like to live in space?
Space debris mostly disintegrates due to friction with the Earth’s atmosphere. But he emphasizes that the worst part of the trip is the food . To feed themselves, they are sent fresh fruit by rocket every month and a half . In addition, they managed to get the lettuce to grow in closets created for that.
He also said that they do not go out into space every day, but that it is a regular activity. “At all times we are hooked by a safety rope, like climbers, and we always have to be careful not to get knots.”
Pesquet said that departures are planned three weeks in advance. And he highlighted that they are millions of kilometers away and that they lose reference to where they are due to the speed with which they move.
“In addition, the references up and down are lost, because we are moving all the time. To get an idea: the journey from New York to Paris takes about 10 minutes from our perspective: you look out the window and you are in America. You go to make a coffee and, when you return, you are already in Europe,” he commented on the matter.
What do they do in emergency cases?
Pesquet commented that they are prepared to face any situation. They had survival, first aid and physical preparation training. In case it is something more urgent, they can return to Earth in 24 hours .
They also have a ship docked to the International Space Station in case there is an emergency that requires evacuation .
How many years on Earth are equivalent to six months in space?
“You come back bad, knackered, wanting to vomit, dizzy… Being in space for six months is equivalent to aging ten years on Earth,” he expressed in the talk.
He also commented that studies are currently being carried out on newly landed people to see how far the body’s limits go and analyze whether it is viable to go to Mars.
This aging is reversible , for this reason the effects of space on the organism are studied.