a Frenchman will travel aboard a Blue Origin rocket for a tourist flight into space

a Frenchman will travel aboard a Blue Origin rocket for a tourist flight into space
a Frenchman will travel aboard a Blue Origin rocket for a tourist flight into space

Sylvain Chiron, a 52-year-old Frenchman, bought a ticket to travel for a few minutes this Sunday, May 19 aboard a rocket from the American company Blue Origin. He will be the 12th Frenchman to go into space.

A trip reserved for a lucky few. This Sunday, May 19, a rocket from the private American company Blue Origin, founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, will take off from Texas, in the United States, for a tourist flight lasting a few minutes. Among the passengers, a Frenchman, who bought a ticket.

A 52-year-old entrepreneur, Sylvain Chiron is far from having the experience of astronaut Thomas Pesquet, the last Frenchman before him to have gone into space.

A simple enthusiast of aviation and thrills, this Savoyard, who obtained his private pilot’s license at the age of 16, decided to take an exceptional trip of a few minutes around the Earth.

He will leave with five other passengers aboard the New Shepard rocket. A rare experience. Only 31 people have already gone above the Karman line, which marks the border of space at an altitude of 100 km according to an international convention, with the company Blue Origin.

“I wanted to become an astronaut”

“I’m going to live my childhood dream,” he rejoices, in an interview given to Agence France-Presse (AFP) this week.

“I was immersed in aeronautics quite young. I really wanted to become an astronaut,” he confides.

To make this trip, Sylvain Chiron had to break the bank. “Yes it’s expensive”, but “not completely crazy either”, he assures, refusing to reveal the price of his ticket.

Far from being the only one to have applied for this flight, the Savoyard explains that he had to submit an application. According to him, it was his “devouring passion for space”, highlighted in his file, which allowed him to make the difference.

The 12th Frenchman in space

The New Shepard rocket has a firing window to take off from 8:30 a.m. local time, or 3:30 p.m. Paris time.

It takes off vertically, propels the capsule which detaches in flight, reaches space then falls before being slowed by parachutes and landing. The flight should only last around ten minutes. It allows its passengers to admire the curvature of the Earth and to float briefly in the capsule.

By succeeding Thomas Pesquet, Sylvain Chiron will officially become the 12th Frenchman in history to travel into space. Before him, 10 astronauts and a Franco-Italian tourist, Ketty Maisonrouge, had experienced the great thrill of being able to observe the blue planet.

A flight “not without risk”

Happy to be able to live this rare experience, the Frenchman nevertheless recognizes that this flight is “not completely devoid of risk”.

“That being said, you have to know how to overcome your fears if you want to do things in life,” he believes.

This risk is one of the reasons why he rejects the term “space tourism”, which according to him rather evokes the image of “a cruise” with “a pina colada”.

The entrepreneur, who founded a craft brewery in Savoie, the Brasserie du Mont-Blanc, sold last September, according to France Bleu, instead wants to believe that his adventure can be a Source of “inspiration for young people” and can allow to show them that “we must not give up”. “You have to pursue your dreams and with a little luck, you can live them,” he maintains.

Among the other passengers is the American Ed Dwight. Aged 90, he is expected to become the oldest person to have reached space, beating by just a few months the actor who played the iconic Captain Kirk in the Star Trek series, William Shatner, who traveled aboard the Blue Origin rocket in 2021.

Juliette Desmonceaux with AFP

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