International

Macron lobbies Harris for French astronaut to join moon mission

France's President Emmanuel Macron poses with U.S Vice President Kamala Harris
AP Photo/Francois Mori
France’s President Emmanuel Macron poses with U.S Vice President Kamala Harris before a conference with several world leaders in Paris, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021.

French President Emmanuel Macron lobbied Vice President Harris to select a French astronaut to be the first European to land on the moon.

Macron pitched European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet as a candidate during a Wednesday gathering with Harris and other officials at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., according to Politico.

Macron, who is on an official visit to the U.S., playfully requested Pesquet be the first European to land on the moon.

“I have a candidate for you for flying to the moon,” Macron said in a video posted on Twitter. “He wants to go to Artemis three.”

Artemis III is an intercontinental efforts that aims to send astronauts back to the moon for the first time since 1972. NASA says the earliest possible date to land astronauts on the lunar surface is 2025.

NASA this month completed the first critical test in the Artemis program, launching the Orion spacecraft from the Space Launch System megarocket to soar more than 40,000 miles past the moon.

The ESA is an official partner in NASA’s Artemis program and plans to send three astronauts on the Orion spacecraft, along with U.S. astronauts, to a space outpost orbiting the moon called The Gateway.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in June that one of those three ESA astronauts could go a step further and land on the moon.

“We look forward to having an ESA astronaut join us on the surface of the Moon and continuing to build on our longstanding, critical partnership,” Nelson said at the time.

The ESA will ultimately decide which astronauts will accompany NASA, and has not made any official announcements.

Pesquet, 44, is from Rouen, France, and joined ESA in 2009. He has traveled to the International Space Station twice, including on a mission last year.

On Wednesday, Pesquet said it would be “fun” to travel to the moon and praised NASA’s Artemis I launch earlier this month at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“The launch was magical,” he said in the video shared by Macron.

Tags Emmanuel Macron Emmanuel Macron France French astronaut Kamala Harris Moon mission
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