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French astronaut next International Space Station commander

Thomas Pesquet will be the first French person take on the role when he travels to space in April

19 March 2021
Thomas Pesquet in space suit. French astronaut next International Space Station commander

Mr Pesquet will go into space in April to spend six months on the ISS as station commander Pic: @esa / ESA / Twitter

By Joanna York

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet will become the first French person, and only third European, to be an International Space Station (ISS) commander when he travels to space in April.

The European Space Agency announced on March 16 that Mr Pesquet, 43, would take on the role after being launched to the ISS on American space capsule SpaceX Crew Dragon. 

It said: “the commander of the space station is responsible for daily management, organising the team’s work and takes decisions in emergency situations – even though the whole team has been highly trained and knows what to do.”

Take off is planned for April 22, and Mr Pesquet will leave Europe this week to begin final preparations at the Johnson Space Centre in Texas, United States.

Mr Pesquet, who was born in Rouen, is expected to spend six months on the ISS as station commander.

In a message on Twitter he said that he was “honoured and happy” to have been offered the role.

This will be Mr Pesquet’s second space mission.

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