Jean-François Clervoy est un astronaute français.
Sélectionné par le Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) en 1985, il rejoint l'Agence Spatiale Européenne en 1992.
Formé et entrainé d'abord pour voler sur Soyouz et la station spatiale MIR, il rejoint la NASA et devient Mission Specialist.
Il effectue 3 missions à bord de la navette spatiale : STS-66 en 1994, STS-84 en 1997 et STS-103 en 1999.
Il a été responsable du Programme ATV (avec le 1er vol du Jules Verne en 2008).
Il est actuellement Président de la société Novaspace et astronaute actif à l'ESA.
En 2009, il publie ''Histoire(s) d'Espace'', où il relate son expérience et sa carrière d'astronaute, notamment sa mission STS-103 qui était une mission de maintenance d'Hubble.
Pour nous, il revient sur sa première mission STS-66.
1) How many years were you connected to the space program prior to your flight ?
2) How did you feel prior to the flight ?
Feeling the incredible was going to become true. Great excitement of feeling not in the reality
3) What kinds of sensations did you experienced during take-off ?
Mentally : mixed of concentration and excitement of living something very strong in my life.
Physically : sense of power behind my back.
4) What does weightlessness feel like, and what did you think about during the flight ?
Weightlessness is the sensation of not feeling your weight nor your body anymore and flying like a free acrobatic bird.
I thought about the great priviledge I had to live this experience, and cried when admiring the beauty of our planet.
5) What were some of the problems you encountered and how did you fix them ?
Secondary computer crashing when passing the south atlantic anomaly- just reboot.
Lost few reaction jets when separating from the external tank – remove them from the software matrix of available jets.
Backup power of robotic arm didn’t work right – not use it.
One air probe didn’t deploy on time during entry – jiggle the switch got it out.
2 meter long icicle formed during water dump, ground controllers took too much time to accept our proposal to knock it off with the robotic arm, as the end-effector camera failed in the meantime – just let it brake up during entry , knowing however it would likely damage some thermal shield tiles.
6) What did you eat, and did it taste real ?
Had a lot of different dishes from the NASA shuttle (dehydrated, thermostabilized, and natural food) menu but also from the France southwest cuisine (duck liver, cassoulet, duck confit, etc.). in general it tasted like on the ground , but felt I could accept far more hot and spicy than on ground. I organize an internantional meal onboard Mir on STS-84 for which each shuttle crew member brought food from his/her home country (French, Chinese, Peruvian, Texan, etc.).
7) What was re-entry like ?
Feeling myself very heavy, the videocamera also that I was holding over the pilot shoulder to film the landing.
Felt that I’d better not move my head too much to avoid being sick when gravity was coming back.
8) Were you glad to be back on Earth, or did you feel you could have spent the rest of your life up there ?
Each time , I wished and felt I could have stayed far longer. I would have liked to stay long enough to learn visually my home planet by heart .