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Engineer within the area business, Anthea Comellini might be referred to as at any time as an astronaut

Posted Jan 25, 2023, 12:34 PMUp to date Jan 25, 2023, 12:35 PM

Way back to she will be able to bear in mind, Anthea Comellini has at all times had her head within the stars. As a toddler, whereas the younger lady lives in Chiari, a small Italian city positioned 70 kilometers north of Milan, her eyes mild up when movies full of spaceships and different fighter planes are broadcast on tv. His ardour for the cosmos, nonetheless, has nothing to do with household. Her father is an architect, her mom a seamstress. However the younger lady, 30 spring at this time, is satisfied: she is going to commit her life to the examine of the cosmos.

As a highschool pupil, she thought for a time of becoming a member of the Italian Air Power, as an officer. His selection lastly goes to a level in aerospace engineering on the Polytechnic of Milan. She stayed there till her grasp’s diploma, however actually wished to do a part of her research overseas. “My faculty presents a double diploma course with the French engineering faculty Isae-Supaéro, I’m instructed that it is vitally well-known, so neither one nor two, I jumped on the likelihood”remembers Anthea Comellini.

She does not communicate a phrase of French. “ I would simply know find out how to order a baguette from a bakery (laughs). » However that is not an issue for her: the college, positioned in Toulouse, presents two weeks of intensive Molière language programs. Extremely-motivated, she rapidly will get into the swing of issues. She then determined to remain in France for her end-of-studies internship at Thales Alenia House, a Franco-Italian three way partnership – which has two websites in France, in Toulouse and Cannes – within the area business sector.

There had been no new astronauts since 2009

The younger engineer flourished a lot within the firm that, as soon as graduated, she determined to do a doctoral thesis there, collectively with Isae-Supaéro. “To place it merely, I used to be engaged on creating navigation algorithms to assist a satellite tv for pc attain one other satellite tv for pc. » Her thesis in hand, Anthea Comellini begins to search for work. We’re at the start of 2021, the Covid has been there, and there usually are not many hires at Thales Alenia House. “ I used to be lastly recruited by the European House Company, in Germany, despatched on missions to discover planets like Mercury, Jupiter or Mars. »

On its second day of labor, in February 2021, the European House Company (ESA) declares the forthcoming opening of purposes for the choice of a brand new promotion of astronauts. An occasion for the reason that final choice marketing campaign of this sort dates again to 2009, promotion of a sure Thomas Pesquet. “The thought of ​​making use of had at all times been behind my thoughts for a few years. However on the time, I already ask myself this query: if I attain the top of the choice course of, will I be prepared to simply accept the sacrifices that life as an astronaut entails, comparable to spending lots of time away from his family members for instance, or be very uncovered to the media? »

The query, lastly, it’s rapidly answered. Anthea Comellini says to herself “go, I strive”. To have the ability to ship their software, aspiring astronauts should particularly have the ability to justify no less than three years {of professional} expertise – “Luckily, my thesis interval is taken into consideration, in any other case I’d not have been in a position to apply” – and haven’t any medical contraindications. The younger engineer meets these standards. However she will not be on the finish of her troubles…

Radio silence for a number of weeks

The choice course of is punctuated by six phases. “From 22,500 candidates at the beginning, we’re already only one,400 for the second part, which consists of psychometric assessments, to measure for instance our velocity of notion, our auditory reminiscence, or our coordination. »

The next phases contain a day of psychological testing – “important since we’ll probably spend time as a staff in area” –. But in addition medical and bodily assessments (coronary heart situation, bone density, ophthalmology), earlier than extra conventional recruitment interviews within the fifth after which within the final part, throughout which there are solely about thirty candidates left, every questioned in flip by the Director Normal of ESA himself.

We’re in October 2022. Then radio silence for a number of weeks. Someday, in November, the younger engineer receives a name on her mobile phone. On the finish of the road, a person’s voice speaks to him in English. She takes time to comprehend it, however she is solely instructed that she is invited to return to Paris to formalize her choice within the new promotion of astronauts, alongside 16 different candidates.

“I perceive that I’m one of many eleven reserve astronauts, along with the six holders”, together with the French Sophie Adenot. That is the primary time the area company has created an astronaut reserve. Concretely, not like the 5 incumbents, they don’t have the assure that they’ll sooner or later have the ability to be part of the Worldwide House Station (ISS) or set foot on the Moon. That is why Anthea Comellini is retaining her present job – once more at Thales Alenia House since September, nonetheless as an engineer – and might be referred to as upon at any time if obligatory for a mission.

“In concrete phrases, I signed a guide contract with the ESA. On this context, I’ll for instance take part in coaching, but additionally symbolize the company as an envoy, which means a sure media visibility. » The younger lady may rely on the unfailing help of her firm’s human assets. And we will perceive them: having an astronaut amongst your workers, particularly once you’re within the aerospace sector, is sweet to your model picture.

Not essentially in a rush to go on a mission together with her new standing as an astronaut, Anthea Comellini is glad with being a reservist relatively than a holder. She nonetheless plans to be an engineer for the years to return and hopes to have a while for her different ardour in life: orienteering. “It is my breath of contemporary air. After I was youthful, I used to be even a part of the Italian nationwide staff! » And, quickly, maybe, will she strive herself on a treadmill on the Worldwide House Station?

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