lundi 15 avril 2013

Interview de Reinhold Ewald, cosmonaute lors de la mission MIR 97

Reinhold Ewald est docteur en physique (avec une maîtrise de physique expérimentale) et diplômé en radio-astronomie.
Il travaille jusqu’en 1987 à l’Université de Cologne sur un radiotélescope qui sera installé à l’Observatoire de Gornergrat, près de Zermatt en Suisse.

C’est cette même année qu’il rejoint l’agence spatiale allemande (DLR) où il travaillera sur le projet qui deviendra SOFIA, diverses expériences lancées par fusées de centre de tird’Esrange en Suède, puis s’occupera des vols habités de la DLR dont il devient le coordinateur des vols spatiaux.

C’est donc tout naturellement qu’il est sélectionné par la DLR pour rejoindre le corps des astronautes allemands.

Il rejoint la Cité des Etoiles en 1992 en tant que doublure de Klaus-Dietrich Flade pour la mission Soyouz TM-14 / MIR 92.

En 1993, il s’occupe de la préparation de la mission STS-55 Spacelab D-2 qui verra partir Hans Schlegel et Ulrich Walter.

En 1995, il commence son, entrainement pour la mission Soyouz TM-25 / MIR 97. Il restera 18 jours à bord de la station spatiale MIR entre le 10 février et le 2 mars 1997 (Hans Schlegel est sa doublure). C’est durant son séjour dans MIR qu’aura lieu le fameux incendie à bord de celle-ci le 23 février.  
En 1999, il rejoint le corps des astronautes de l’ESA.
Entre 2002 et 2004, il est le Operations Manager pour les 4 vols européens sur Soyouz (Soyouz TM-34, Soyouz TMA-1, Soyouz TMA-3 et Soyouz TMA-4).

Entre 2005 et 2008, il s’occupe des opérations de l’ESA avec l’ESA et de la préparation du module Columbus et de la mission STS-122.

Entre 2008 et 2011, il est le responsable pour l’ESA au Centre de Contrôle de Columbus.

Actuellement, il est le conseiller Vols Habités auprès du directeur de l’ESA, Jean-Jacques Dordain.

Interview réalisée en avril 2013


How many years were you connected to the space program prior to your flight ?
I applied for the German Astronaut Team in 1986, but was called into the team only 1990.

As a radio astronomer by profession and physicist I always have been thrilled by Space.

How did you feel prior to the flight ?
Concentrated and not a bit anxious.

I had come to the conclusion that what I wanted to do in space was worth to undergo the inherent remaining risk.

Also I wanted to blend in as a fully accepted member of my Soyuz crew, not just a tourist or paying passenger.

What kinds of sensations did you experienced during take-off ?
All sorts of forces that betrayed my senses.

To know the equation of motion and to live through one are different things indeed.

What does weightlessness feel like, and what did you think about during the flight ?
We received a good lot of warning not to be to active after insertion into µg, and I well remember the feeling during my first parabola flights. But it turned out that lasting µg conditions were well interpreted by my vestibular system and I could go on working from the very first moments.

However, on board of the MIR space station I actively had to de-learn using strength in pushing oneself into directions - it hurts when you have to brake at your destination.
(Crédit Photo : DLR)
What were some of the problems you encountered and how did you fix them ?
Worst we encountered was a fire, which came out of a broken oxygen cartridge.

For a couple of hours we had to deal with a potentially poisonous and completely smoggy atmosphere until we decided to carry on with our flight.

What did you eat, and did it taste real ?
I had to eat a strict diet as a prerequisite of medical experiments.

It always was too much for my appetite and the food tasted overcooked and dull.

What was re-entry like ?
Again, I exactly knew what was going to happen but still was surprised about the brute forces acting on us.

We were well safe inside our contour couches, but after all this time of µg it really was hard work to keep your arms, legs, and head in a safe position.

The most action came when the parachute opened and we were thrown around into all directions. Before that we experienced 5 and more g-deceleration, meaning being pressed into your seat with 5 times your body weight on Earth.

Were you glad to be back on Earth, or did you feel you could have spent the rest of your life up there ?
I was looking forward to bring my experiment results (including my body as an important specimen for medical experiments) home, as this was the most important objective of my flight.

I also was looking forward to see my family for longer periods than just a weekend after the flight. While I had a good and challenging time up there, they were more concerned about the risks!

Reinhold Ewald à Paris en février 2013

(Crédit Photo : Stéphane Sebile / Space Quotes - Souvenirs d'espace)

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