French Science Festival Here we are today live with Marrakech. You know where that is?
Morocco. I’d like Moussa Hoummady
to join us now. He’s the president
of the Franco-Moroccan Alliance, an association for scientific
cooperation. Is that correct, Moussa? Scientific cooperation.
Grab a mike. Our association is an alliance
for scientific cooperation and dialogue
between sciences and society. It’s about
opening science to society, and namely to young publics. That’s perfect,
because we have a live link-up, or rather we’re in contact, with a high school class in Marrakech. It’s the Victor-Hugo Lycée. That’s correct.
It’s an exceptional event for this 25th French Science Festival. Because it’s
taking place within the context of the COP21-COP22 transition in Marrakech. And we wanted
to highlight this symbolic moment with this live link-up,
which connects the 2 populations: French students
and Moroccan students. Let’s say hello. We can see them
watching us on the screens. Hello, how’s life? Hello! Yes! Hello! Morocco has a Science Festival too? Right now, it’s the 17th Astronomy Festival
of Marrakech. So, what we’re aiming for
with this live link-up is to show that science is open. It’s not restricted by borders. In science, there are no nearby borders,
and no faraway ones either. Science is a realm of sharing,
knowhow, knowledge and vision,
and thus progress. A big thanks to all the teams
who realized this technical feat. And in the name
of the Franco-Moroccan Alliance for scientific cooperation and dialogue
between sciences and society, I’ll hand over
to my Moroccan colleague. Can you hear us, Marrakech? Yes, very well. You’re Saïd Iziki? Yes, thank you.
We’re thrilled to be with you from the French Lycée in Marrakech. The Astronomy Club students are very excited
to be here with you today in the context you just recalled, the 17th Astronomy Festival and the preparation for COP22,
which will soon take place here. How many are you there? – Excuse me?
– How many are you, watching us? About 10 students.
We’re having some technical problems, but they’re here with Mr. El Houat, the teacher
who heads the Astronomy Club. We’ll come back. You’ll be able to watch
Thomas’ presentation of his mission. I promise we’ll get back to you, so you can ask your questions
from Marrakech. Thank you for being with us. Let’s hear
a round of applause for Morocco. Thank you very much, Moussa.
I’ll see you later. Ready to take off for space? – Yes!
– Yes? Thomas, where do we start? I know you’re
used to telling your story, so I’ll let you start. I’ll be quick,
I don’t want to put people to sleep. I’ve been training for my mission
for 7 years. I was selected
by the European Space Agency in 2008, and I started in 2009 with 5 colleagues from different European countries. And we started our basic training. We attended school at the European Astronaut Centre
in Cologne, Germany. That lasted about
one and a half or 2 years. Following that, we were qualified
to be sent on missions. I was appointed for a mission in 2014. At that point, your general preparation
becomes more specific. So what do we train in?
We train with spacesuits, for example, to be able to make spacewalks. This part takes place
in the biggest pool in the world at the Space Center in Houston. We learn the International Space Station
by heart because… – Is it big?
– The size of a soccer field. It’s 70 m long and 100 m wide. It’s very complex.
There are cables running everywhere. You must know every detail
to carry out repairs. You live there,
and when something breaks down, you can’t call the repairman. It’s us, the astronauts,
who make repairs. We’re our own doctors too.
We have to heal ourselves onboard. So it requires lots of skills. To prepare, we also
use a Soyuz spacecraft simulator. The Soyuz
is the rocket that takes us from Baikonur, in Kazakhstan, to the International Space Station. Take-off is on 15 November at 11:05 PM. – It’s precise!
– Of course. In space,
you count to the second. The trip takes… It takes us 2 days
to reach the Space Station. We’ll dock and then live onboard
for 6 months. It takes preparation.
You must learn to pilot the Soyuz for your re-entry
into the Earth’s atmosphere. This is very impressive. You have a heat shield,
there are flames, and it’s shaking. Then you land with parachutes
in the Kazakh steppes, where rescue helicopters pick us up. We have survival training too. If you don’t land in the right place, you must be able to survive
for 3-4 days in the snow in winter, or the desert,
or even if you land in water. It’s not the plan,
but you must be able. So next, we spend
6 months on the Space Station. What goes on there?
We carry out scientific research. That’s why I’m here today. Almost 50% of an astronaut’s time is spent on scientific experiments conceived earlier by space agencies. Sometimes we’re guinea-pigs. We do bloodwork and not-so-fun things
like electroshocks. We study muscles, the cardiovascular
and neurological systems. We also carry out research operations in the realms
of materials science and biology. We grow plants
in the Space Station. We also do lots
of maintenance works and repairs, like I said earlier. So all that will
take us to April-May 2017. You’ll be back for Spring. Exactly, I’ll miss winter. I’ll watch winter from above. We take lots of photos on the Station because we can see Earth. We were talking earlier about sunsets and sunrises.
It’s very interesting. How many times do you
travel around Earth in one 24h day? The Space Station
is situated at 450 km altitude, and we fly at 28,000 km/h.
It’s extremely fast. We fly around the Earth and… We pass in front of the sun,
then behind, in the shadows, in front and behind again. So we see 16 sunrises
and 16 sunsets a day. If we look out the window,
we see day and night. In about 10 min,
we go from New York to Paris. Watching this from is fabulous. But inside the Station
we recreate a normal rhythm, with workdays that start at 7 am and end at 7:30 pm. We switch lights on in the morning
and off for bed. – That’s how it works.
– I see. We also do 2 hours of gym a day in the Space Station. Why? Because
in the Space Station you float. Everything is easy.
You can easily move heavy weights. You move hundreds of kilos
with 2 fingers. But as a result, there are many muscles
you don’t use. The muscles
you’re using now to stand, or to sit straight, we don’t need them. We float slowly. So our muscles start to atrophy
and grow weak. After 6 months,
we’d come back to Earth, we’d be flask and in bad health. It’s dangerous,
so to counterbalance these effects, we work out 2 and 1/2 hours a day.
We run on treadmills, held down by elastic bands, and we have
a 3-dimension bodybuilding machine that uses pneumatic energy. That’s how we spend our days. We prepare for anything not-so-good
that might happen. – For example?
– Fire, depressurization. If we were to hit
a micrometeorite, for example… Inside the Station, the atmosphere
is the same as on Earth, the same pressure.
But outside, it’s a vacuum. If you make a hole in the Station,
it’s like a balloon, the air goes out. So we have oxygen masks
and procedures to follow. Fire… On the Space Station,
fire would not spread like on Earth, but you need to be careful. We try to
use non-inflammable materials, but we have fire extinguishers,
just in case. If a toxic substance were to spread
through the air on the Station, it could get into our eyes and lungs. So you must be prepared
to cope with all these situations. But it won’t happen! No, but it’s better to be safe.
Can you leave the station urgently? Yes, within reason. In a “disaster scenario”
we try to save the crew first. Then save the Station. If we really can’t save the Station, and it’s very serious,
in 20 min, we can be in our Soyuz, the vessel that brought us
and which is also our survival capsule. And in 24 hours, we’re back on Earth. That’s very fast, 24 hours. You take off from Baikonur on the Soyuz. How long
does it take to reach the Station? 450 km is not very far. Paris-Lyon is a greater distance. The problem is that you’re
flying vertically at very high speed. 28,000 km/h. A rocket takes off vertically,
then slopes to an almost horizontal angle to attain
a speed that keeps you in orbit so you don’t fall back to Earth. If we carry out all the manoeuvres
as planned, we can do it in 6 hours. We can leave Baikonur, reach the Space Station, dock, open the airlock like in a submarine
and enter the Space Station. But we also have another trajectory
that takes more precautions. We recalculate all the manoeuvres
and get there in 2 days. We take a slower path to reach the Space Station. At what moment
do you choose one or the other? It depends on the orbital elements.
Is the Station a bit too low? It depends on fuel, on many things. We should know soon. It’s very astonishing, the Station travels at 28,000 km/h and you have to catch up with it. But everything
is perfectly calculated and it works. That’s why the work on the ground
is so important. We execute the plan. We’re at the controls
of the vehicles you see here, but everything
is calculated ahead of time and we can’t make errors.
It’s to the second. When you have 2 vehicles
at 28,000 km/h, nothing can be approximate. Can you imagine if they crashed? The adventure is over. Is there a moment when you must… I imagine you’re always concentrated,
but are there harder moments? Perhaps take-off? Or a moment when you’re more anxious, even though you’re prepared? The phases with the greatest risk are take-off,
landing and the spacewalks. When you’re in the Station, it’s like being on a big ship
that’s crossing the Atlantic or Pacific. Normally, nothing bad should happen
or there’s time to react. When you take off, it goes very fast. You’re going very fast, very high
and you use lots of fuel. So you need to pay attention
and react to the second. That’s why we train in simulators. Re-entering
the Earth’s atmosphere is the same. The capsule shakes tremendously
and it ends with a parachute. We parachute down
in a capsule that weighs 1.5 tons and we land in the Kazakh steppes. Landing is like a small car accident. It’s like being hit from behind
at a red light at 50 km/h. That’s the sensation
when the capsule touches down. Do you have airbags? No, no airbags. We have seats
that absorb the landing a bit. And we have retrorockets
that go off right before impact,
at 80 cm from the ground. They help absorb the shock,
which is pretty severe. Can you tell us
a bit about the spacewalks? That must be a fabulous moment. When you leave the Station and find yourself all alone
in empty space, with a fabulous view of Earth! Spacewalks are very particular because a spacesuit
is like a small personalised spaceship. You have a communication system,
oxygen, a radio, all built into the spacesuit. You have a Plexiglas visor and on the other side, it’s empty space.
It’s really impressive. When you exit the airlock, you’re looking down at the Earth. You come out head first, and beneath you,
there’s 450 km of empty space. So it’s much higher than an airplane. You flip back to straighten up, and when you look down, your feet are floating
with 450 km below you. The continents
are going by at 28,000 km/h. – It must be fab.
– Yes, but it demands preparation. And then suddenly,
you’re on the other side of the Earth, and bam! everything is black.
It feels like… It’s like diving at night. You switch your headlamps on
and try to get your bearings. The sensations are incredible
and very unique. It’s like a dream inside a dream. Because you’re completely free
and you’re flying in space. It’s what dreams are made of. But how can you prepare
and train for that, because it only exists up there? The particularity of space
is that it only exists in space. We have simulators and for spacewalks we train in pools,
where Archimedes’ principle counterbalances
the weight of the spacesuit. So in the pool, in water, you float
as if you were weightless. The Nasa Center in Houston
has a pool where I train regularly.
It’s the biggest pool in the world. 110 m long by about 50 m wide. Inside the pool,
there’s a life-size reproduction of the entire Space Station. We spend 6 hours training
in our spacesuits. We’re lowered underwater,
and we train for spacewalks.
That’s what you see on the screen. It’s not easy,
a spacesuit is like an armour. It’s heavy, it’s difficult to move.
It resists movement. Closing your hand
is like crushing a tennis ball. You come back up after 6 hours and you’re tired,
but it’s the price to pay to live your dream. When you go on a spacewalk, you are always connected to the Station. It’s essential. We’re always connected.
We have a retractable wire cable that we clip inside the airlock
and it can reel us back in. If we remain in one spot,
we use tethers, like climbers. It’s like climbing with an armour. It’s as simple as that. – And you’re weightless.
– Right. And if these 2 systems
were really to break down, we have small jetpacks,
sort of like George Clooney in “Gravity”. But which only gives you one shot. You must aim carefully
and use thrusters to return to safety. But you can’t miss. It’s not like George Clooney. We have only one chance. We train for that too. You have a jetpack in case you become disconnected
from the Station? Yes. It’s never happened,
but that’s what it’s for. When you go on a spacewalk, are you alone or with others?
And what do you do? We’re always two. If one has a problem,
the other must bring him back. We train for this too in the pool.
We simulate a problem. Someone’s unconscious,
you have to bring them back. It’s hard. What do we do on a spacewalk?
We make repairs. The exterior of the Station is complex. On my mission,
we’re going to change batteries. There are big batteries at the base of the solar panels,
which supply the Station with energy. The batteries store energy
like in a car. We see the panels in the photo. We need to change these batteries,
like in a car. They’re 15 years old
and they need to be changed. We also set up scientific experiments to study the Sun or the Earth. This is part of an astronaut’s
daily work on the Station. How many spacewalks will you do? – Are they programmed?
– Not quite. For the moment,
4 are scheduled during my mission. I don’t know if that will change, or if I’ll be doing them. But 4 spacewalks… I hope to do one.
It would be magical. The first one will be highly emotional. Your brain needs to understand
that you’re not going to fall. When you see the void, your brain says: “You’re going to fall.”
It’s not natural. The first 5 minutes when you go outside
are just are for that. You’re connected with a cord
and you let your hands go. And you realize
that you don’t fall, you float. It’s very impressive the first time,
there’s 450 km of empty space below you. But your brain learns that it’s okay, you’re not going to fall. Then you can go out
and it usually goes well. Thank you. Let’s see what’s going on in Morocco. I think they have 2 questions for us. Are our friends in Marrakech with us? Yes! They’re here
just waiting for the moment to ask their questions.
They’ve prepared a few. – We’re ready.
– We’ve chosen two. Go on, let’s start with the first. Hiba will ask the first question. Hello. You partially answered
my question, but I’ll ask anyway. What studies do you
do to become an astronaut? And how do you prepare
for a trip like that? That’s a good question.
What studies? There are many ways
to become an astronaut. Some people are doctors, others are pilots,
engineers or scientists. Often a science background. I’ll say it now,
and then we can move on. You have to work hard at school.
It’s important. No one’s paying me to say this,
but it’s true. You need a scientific degree.
You must be slightly operational. It helps if you’ve done parachuting. – You must be athletic.
– Yes. You’ve done it all. – Pilot?
– Pilot, yes that helps. You need to speak foreign languages, because today
missions are international. European or with
Nasa and our Russian friends too. Maybe with the Chinese tomorrow. It’s true for all fields today. You need foreign languages. Those are important steps. I studied engineering.
Then I became an airline pilot. And I did lots of sports. Parachuting, diving… That helped me.
You have to wait for a selection, you get in the starting line
and hope to make it to the finish. What happened exactly?
You were a pilot for Air France, right? You took people
around the world on vacation, and one day you said,
“I want to go to space. I’ll sign up.” It had been in the back of my head
for a long time. I’d specialized
in aerospace engineering. I worked at the National
Centre for Space Studies, at SUPAERO, and in the industry before. Then I became a pilot. It was closer to my dream,
but I kept one foot in aerospace. When the selection came up,
I enrolled. I did my best and was lucky
to make it to the end. But they’re looking for many profiles.
Then want girls too. There aren’t enough girls
in sciences, namely amongst astronauts.
So girls, I’m telling you… First of all, you usually
work harder at school than boys. So keep it up and go into
scientific and technical careers, because we need you. Thank you.
Okay, another question. From Marrakech. My friends. It’s Souleymane
who will ask another question. Hello. You said you’re going
to carry out experiments up there. What kind of experiments… We can’t hear you well. What kind of experiments… Ones you can’t carry out on Earth. Thank you. That’s a good question. 6 months of mission
is about 300 experiments for the 6 crew members. 50 of them are European. Many are medical.
We study the human body on the Station. You undergo phenomena
in space that are analogous to ageing. Your arteries get harder. Viruses are more virulent
in the Space Station. So that’s good
for trying to isolate vaccinations. Lots of medical studies
and studies on the brain. Learning to move in 3 dimensions
helps the brain reconnect. We study these reconnections
and compare them with people who’ve had car accidents.
We try to draw conclusions. We study technology too. Antibacterial surfaces, for example. We try new means of testing water. It’s necessary on the Station
and can be applied on Earth. Materials sciences for alloys.
Really all domains. Some are complicated and theoretical, but there are simpler experiments too where you see everyday applications. And you’re in a weightless environment. That’s why you do them up there? Exactly. On Earth,
you can change many parameters. You can change light, temperature, pressure and gas composition… But there’s one you can never change
and that’s gravity. It’s there, and you can’t eliminate it. But it masks
phenomena we’d like to study. Being in space is the only way to… not eliminate
but suppress the effects of gravity, and have access to processes that would be impossible on Earth. That’s what the Station is: a unique laboratory to
do things that are impossible on Earth. How many of you leave together?
Crews of 3? Three of us leave in the Soyuz.
It’s tight. And we join 3 other crew members
on the Station. Do they go back or stay? They leave in 3 months, and in the middle of our mission,
3 others come up. It’s every 3 months. 3 people when I arrive,
3 later on, and my 2 partners. I’ll see 8 people on the Station. – Do you already know each other?
– Yes, we do. We’ve trained together for 2 years. There are many different nationalities. Russian, American,
European, Japanese and Canadians. I won’t see
any Canadians or Japanese. You need to
know each other before leaving, because you’re going to be locked up
for 6 months together. Quarters are close
with people you didn’t choose. You have to be a team player.
That’s important too. You learn it doing
sports or activities, not at school. It’s important
in everyday life and in space. One more question from Morocco?
We have another 2-3 min. If you’re still with us.
Any other questions? Was it your childhood dream
to become an astronaut or was by accident? – A childhood dream?
– You don’t get there by accident. I don’t want to brag,
but it’s difficult to get here. It’s not at all impossible. I wasn’t overly gifted
and today I’m here. But you have to really want it. You have to work hard
and really want it. So it wasn’t by accident.
I’d thought of it, but didn’t know if it was possible. No one said:
“You go to astronaut school, you work hard, and that’s it.” That’s not how it works.
But it’s the same in all professions. Few career paths are in a straight line. You need to set a goal
and start on a path. Along the way,
maybe you’ll discover turnoffs you didn’t know
about when you started out. You’ll make choices
and necessarily get somewhere. The important thing is to set out. Don’t hesitate to set out on a path. If you want to be a doctor,
set out to do that. Maybe it’ll change, maybe you won’t be a doctor
but something else will happen. The big mistake not to make
is to do nothing. To not set out or say:
“It’s too hard, I’ll never make it.” Don’t do that. It’s fabulous,
we’re all going to go to space. I’ll take you with me. Yeah! We’ll party
on the International Space Station. I’d like to thank our friends
in Morocco. – Thank you.
– And thank you for your answers. We’ll see you soon for the COP22. We’ll make a little trip
to Marrakech to discuss climate. But before, one last little question.
It’s not over, Thomas! This lasts all afternoon in groups. One small point. I was given the game rules for today. And it’s out of the question
that you leave with any sort of virus that you might transmit
on the Station, because it would be a disaster. So we can talk to you,
but no selfies or handshaking. – I just need to be careful.
– That’s all? Yes, that’s it…
I don’t live in a glass case. But I need
to keep a certain safety distance. That’s why I say it. We were told to watch out. Take good care of him.
We’ll lend him to you for the day. Don’t hurt me today,
otherwise there’s no mission. – People wouldn’t be happy.
– No, we can’t do that! So, it’s promised.
But will we have the right to a photo on social networks… Maybe not of your first spacewalk, but of one spacewalk
when you’re 450 km from the ground? Sure, we’ll try. It’s complicated to take photos outside,
but we have cameras that have their own spacesuits. We’ll try to do it. Even for myself, I’d like a souvenir,
because it’s the ultimate selfie. It’s the top of all selfies. Thank you very much, Thomas, for this 1st round. It’s not over. Bravo.