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France and Piloted Space Missions

Between 1982 and 1994 five Frenchmen flew on six orbital missions conducted by the US or the USSR/Russian Federation. All but one of these flights were nationally sponsored, whereas the last in 1994 was under the auspices of ESA. France was the originator of the Hermes spaceplane concept which was adopted and later abandoned by ESA and has been the principal proponent of ESA's CTV now under consideration for manned missions in the year 2002 or beyond. Meanwhile, France is preparing for two final short-duration missions to Mir in 1996 and 1997, respectively.

France's first astronaut, Jean-Loop Chretien, visited the Soviet Salyut 7 space station in June, 1982, on an 8-day mission and then worked on board Mir for 23 days during November-December, 1988. On the latter mission Chretien became the first non-American/non-Soviet astronaut to perform an EVA. In between Chretien's missions, Patrick Baudry was a member of the ST5-51G crew in 1985. During July-August, 1992, Michel Tognini spent nearly two weeks on board Mir under the Antares program, which was followed by the 3-week Altair mission to Mir of Jean-Pierre Haignere in July, 1993. Representing ESA, Frenchman Jean-Francois Clervoy flew on board STS-66 in 1994 (References 45-46).

Current plans call for Claudie Andre-Deshays to visit Mir in 1996 on board Soyuz TM-24 and for Leopold Eyharts to follow suit on Soyuz TM-27 in 1997. Both flights will last only about two weeks. The proposed decommissioning of the Mir space station in late 1997 or 1998 will probably negate earlier plans for another French mission to a Russian space station late in the decade (References 47-49).


45. C. Lardier, "J-F Clervoy Cinquieme Francois De L'Espace", Air & Cosmos, 11 November 1994, pp. 36-37.

46. C. Lardier, Astronauts Jean-Francois Clervoy Pourrait Revoter Dans 2 ou 3 Ans", Air & Cosmos, 23 December 1994, p. 61.

47.A. Ducrocq, "Pour Que La Station Ne Soit Pas Pernicieuse", Air & Cosmos, 9 December 1994, p. 37.

48. J.-L. Chretien, "Vols D'Astronautes Francais en 1996-97", Air & Cosmos, 6 January 1995, p. 60.

49. "La Mission Cassiopee Passe De 14 a 16 Jours", Air & Cosmos, 13 January 1995, p. 39.

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