Thomas Pesquet sets European record with his sixth spacewalk

With his last exit from the ISS, on September 12, 2021, Thomas Pesquet sets a new record for ESA. The astronaut has now spent 39 hours and 54 minutes cumulatively in space, more than Luca Parmitano and his 33 hours.

It was the sixth time in his career as an astronaut that Thomas Pesquet had ventured outside the International Space Station (ISS). On Sunday, September 12, 2021, the astronaut carried out a spacewalk, in the company of Akihiko Hoshide, a member of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Together, they were to carry out work to prepare for the arrival of future solar panels on the ISS.

« Mission accomplished », Then tweeted Thomas Pesquet, after an outing that lasted 6 hours and 54 minutes in total. For the European Space Agency (ESA), of which the astronaut is a member, this new time spent in the vacuum of space is symbolic: with his last extravehicular activities, Thomas Pesquet dethrones a previous European record, set by the Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano. ” This is a new record for ESA », has published on Twitter the space agency after the release, indicating that we would have to review this infographic. Luca Parmitano is no longer the ESA astronaut to have spent the most time in spacewalks in space: Thomas Pesquet is now ahead of him.

This infographic was updated in July 2021. Since then, Thomas Pesquet has emerged from the ISS. // Source: ESA (cropped image)

39 hours and 54 minutes (cumulative) in the vacuum of space

If we add the time that Thomas Pesquet carried out on a spacewalk on September 12, to the time already spent in space (33 hours), we see that the astronaut has now spent 39 hours and 54 minutes in space (outside the ISS cabin). He therefore overtook Luca Parmitano, with his 33 hours and 9 minutes of cumulative spacewalks. In the ESA list, other French astronauts are in the top 11 of Europeans who have spent the most time in spacewalks during space missions: Philippe Perrin (4th with 19 hours and 31 minutes), Jean-Pierre Haigneré (8th with 6 hours and 19 minutes) and Jean-Loup Chrétien (5 hours and 57 minutes).

For the anecdote, it is not Thomas Pesquet who was originally to carry out this recent exit outside the ISS. Initially, it was planned that the outing would take place on August 24 and that it would be led by another pair: Akihiko Hoshide and Mark Vande Hei, NASA astronaut. However, the deadline had to be pushed back, due to a minor medical problem encountered by the American. Eventually, Thomas Pesquet stepped out in his place, while Mark Vande Hei supported his two colleagues from inside the ISS.

The Alpha mission, which is Thomas Pesquet’s second aboard the ISS, is to last a total of six months. He should therefore return to Earth at the end of October. Before leaving the cockpit, he will become the first French to command the ISS. This stay also made him the Frenchman to have spent the most time in space.

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