On 17 November, Frenchman Thomas Pesquet lifted off in a Soyuz spacecraft to partake in the 6-month Proxima mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) with two other astronauts, an American and a Russian.
The 38 years old Supaéro graduate, who trained at CNES (French National Centre for Space Studies) in Toulouse, is the 10th French astronaut and youngest European astronaut ever to have been selected for a space mission. Pesquet, an airline pilot for Air France with 2,300 flying hours to his name, was selected in 2010 from among 8,400 candidates to become a member of the European Astronaut Corps. In orbit on the Station, 400 km away from Earth, he and his two teammates, Oleg Novitskiy (Russia) and Peggy Whitson (United States), will conduct nearly 100 very diverse scientific experiments developed by NASA, ESA and CNES. He will also carry out four extravehicular activities for the purpose of station maintenance.