Sophie Adenot, a Frenchwoman in the elite corps of astronauts


Sophie Adenot, member of the new class of ESA astronauts, at the ephemeral Grand Palais, in Paris, on November 23, 2022.

What do little girls dream of? According to the French Sophie Adenot, whose selection in the very closed body of astronauts of the European Space Agency (ESA) was announced Wednesday, November 23 in Paris, some dream of space: “I thought it was really fascinating”she says, in English, in her presentation video posted online by ESA. “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always had this explorer’s curiosity, she adds. I wanted to discover, learn new things. And when I grew up, I really had this taste for science, research and technology. » His wish then, “explore the limits of the second dimension”, i.e. the vertical dimension.

Head to the skies, then. This first involves engineering studies at the Higher Institute of Aeronautics and Space (ISAE-Supaero), where, according to her CV, she specializes “in the flight dynamics of spacecraft and aircraft”. Curriculum completed in 2004 with a Master of Science from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. Immediately afterwards, Sophie Adenot entered working life as an engineer at Airbus Helicopters in Marignane (Bouches-du-Rhône) where she worked on the design of helicopter cockpits. “And I loved helicopter cockpits so much that I wanted to make them my office,” she confides.

In 2005, at the age of 23, Sophie Adenot therefore chose the Air Force. After her training in helicopter piloting, she participated in several search and rescue flights in hostile terrain then, in 2012, joined the squadron in Villacoublay (Yvelines) responsible for transporting the Head of State, the ministers government or foreign delegations. She then left for the United Kingdom to obtain her helicopter test pilot diploma, a position she has held since 2019 at the Cazaux Air Base Flight Test Center, located in La Teste-de-Buch. (Gironde).

Obstacle course

With three thousand hours of flight on twenty-two different types of helicopters, an airplane pilot’s license, another as a glider pilot and a last one as a military parachutist, Sophie Adenot seemed to have made the rounds of the air. He therefore had to go where there is no more air, that is to say in space. Like nearly 23,000 other people, she applied to join ESA’s new promotion of astronauts, the first since that of Thomas Pesquet in 2009.

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