The European Space Agency (ESA) unveiled its new class of career astronauts on Wednesday, selecting France’s Sophie Adenot and four other candidates from a list of more than 22,500 applicants. A helicopter pilot in the French army, Adenot becomes France’s second female astronaut after Claudie Haigneré. She spoke to Axadle about reaching this historic milestone, what inspired her to become an astronaut and why she thinks space exploration is important.
Despite making history, 40-year-old Adenot is determined to simply get on with the job. “I’m here to be a scientist and to drive highly innovative technologies on board the space station with our partners from the European Space Agency. So the idea is to be an ambassador, yes of course, but not a star,” she told Axadle: s James André.
“It all started as a little girl’s dream, to sit on her grandfather’s lap and look at the sky and the stars. But I didn’t wake up one day and say ‘I’m going to be an astronaut.’ [It happened] very progressive. I read a lot of biographies. The first was Marie Curie and I decided that I wanted to go into science and try to influence society through science, even if it was very far away. The other trigger for me was the biography of Claudie Haigneré (the first Frenchwoman in space). I was 14 years old when she took off and it was really a trigger for me, I decided that I wanted to go this way, Adenot explained.