Astronaut Thomas Pesquet leaves again… for the Central African Republic

Back to Earth for a whileFrench astronaut Thomas Pesquet is back in the air, at the wheel of a humanitarian plane that took off for the Central African Republic on Wednesday, April 13, noted an AFP journalist at the Paris airport of Le Bourget.

I didn’t just want to give my image, or send messages of support, but do something moresaid the European Space Agency astronaut during a press conference organized by the NGO Aviation sans Frontières before departure.

“I would really like to get on the field because I feel really useful there”

Thomas Pesquet

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

Airplane transferred from United States

The aircraft makes it possible to overcome grooved bush tracks and “road-cutters”“, bandits attacking motorists in Africa, says Jean-Yves Grosse, head of air operations for Aviation Sans Frontières.

The plane the astronaut is flying, a brand new Cessna Grand Caravan, was transferred from Kansas, United States, in February. The Frenchman is one of the pilots who must take him to a safe destination, even though the NGO has not indicated whether he would go until the end of the trip. His exact route has also not been disclosed for security reasons.

Continuous training to complete missions

To replace its second obsolete device, the NGO still needs 1.5 million euros, which it wants to raise thanks to its partners and donations. Thomas Pesquet needs a few more flying hours to be fully qualified on board the aircraft – so he is not the pilot in command – and to be able to carry out missions in Bangui, in the Central African Republic, or in Bunia, in the Democratic Republic of Congo , the two countries where Aviation sans Frontières deploys its aircraft.

I would like to go into the field because that is where I feel really useful“AFP told AFP Thomas Pesquet shortly before his departure. He had previously been concerned about the long-term consequences of the war in Ukraine for space cooperation with Russia.

We can clearly see that we are not committed to tomorrow’s collaboration and unfortunately in the space sector projects are being developed in five, ten, fifteen years, so the effects of what is happening right now will be seen in a few years; they won’t be positive that’s for surehe regretted.

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