Astronaut Thomas Pesquet talks live from the ISS | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 23.11.2016
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Astronaut Thomas Pesquet talks live from the ISS

Thomas Pesquet made contact with the Earth today via a live video link. He described his first impressions of the ISS - and got some words of encouragement from his family.

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet was in good spirits when he made contact with Earth today, four days after entering the International Space Station. He talked about his experiences so far via a live video link to the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany.

"It's much better than I imagined it!" Pesquet said. "What really hits you when you arrive is the sense of freedom."

This 38-year-old Frenchman is making his space debut with this flight. He blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on November 17, along with Oleg Novitskiy, from Russia, and veteran astronaut Peggy Whitson, from the United States.

Thomas Pesquet Oleg Novitsky und Peggy Whitson (Picture-Alliance/AP Photo/D. Lovetsky)

Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitsky and Thomas Pesquet before lift-off

Pesquet's mother told her son she was proud of him, and his partner, Anne, described the "incredible" moment she watched the trio's rocket launch.

Reflecting on what this experience has been like for his family, Pesquet said: "Seeing the rocket launch is very impressive. It was hard, emotionally, for everybody. Maybe more for them than for me, because for me inside the rocket, it's just like in the simulator - it shakes a lot and you feel the Gs, but other than that you're pretty much used to it.

"For me it's just like being on a business trip!" he added.

Pesquet, Whitson and Novitskiy will be on the ISS for six months. In this time they will work on experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.

When he's not hard at work, Pesquet hopes to spend more time in the Cupola observatory module, taking pictures and generally enjoying the view.

He explained that the astronauts also do 2.5 hours of exercise every day. "The treadmill is actually horizontal, so we run on the wall," he said. They also have a "weight machine" which uses air pressure to create resistance.

"It's not the most fun sports, but we have to do it to stay in shape," Pesquet explained. "Otherwise you lose muscle mass, you lose bone mass, and you're simply too weak."