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Who is the first Frenchman to go into space?

Who is the first Frenchman to go into space?

June 24, 1982 marked the date of the French invasion of space. France has already been the third space power in the world after the United States and the Soviet Union since 1965.

This date coincides with the launch of a small satellite called Asterix aboard a Diamant A rocket that was launched from Algeria. A few years later, a French astronaut launched a Soyuz T-6 mission (called PVH in French, meaning first manned flight).

The first French cosmonaut to travel into space joined the Soviet Salyut 7 station

This astronaut is none other than Jean-Loup Chretien who was an Air Force fighter pilot before becoming an astronaut. In addition to being the first French astronaut to go into space, Jean-Loup Chretien was also the first Western European to shoot for the stars.

Soyuz T-6 was a French-Soviet mission. Launched on June 24, 1982 with astronauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Alexander Ivanchenkov from Baikonur Air Base in Kazakhstan.

This mission aimed to reach the new Soviet space station Salyut 7. The three astronauts conducted several experiments there, especially to better understand the effects of space on the human body.

Two French astronauts were selected from 400 candidates

Moreover, several French scientific instruments were also sent aboard the space station. Thus, the National Center for Space Studies recruited the first astronauts.

Out of 400 applications, only two were selected. Jean-Loup Chrétien and Patrick Baudry. Both astronauts were trained in Moscow. Jean-Loup Chretien was selected for the Soyuz T-6 while Patrick Baudry was on the reserve crew.

Finally, Patrick Baudry did not participate in a single Franco-Soviet space mission. He was launched into space a few years later, but on an American mission.

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Jean-Loup Chrétien ended his career at NASA after three spaceflights

After a 1982 mission, Jean-Loup Chrétien returned to space in 1988 aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. This time he arrived at Mir station. This mission was an opportunity for him to be the first Soviet or American cosmonaut to perform a spacewalk.

Finally, Jean-Loup Chretien, now 85 years old, made his third and final space flight in 1997 aboard the American shuttle Atlantis. He then left Cnes to finish his career at NASA after obtaining dual US citizenship.