Toulouse: “Cité de l’Espace is not a house that falls asleep” says its godmother, astronaut Claudie Haigneré

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The Cité de l’Espace is celebrating its 25th birthday this Saturday, inviting the public to celebrate this anniversary with a free and unique program. Astronaut Claudie Haigneré, the place’s godmother, evokes the city’s past and future. Interview.

The Cité de l’Espace is celebrating its 25th birthday this Saturday, inviting the public to celebrate this anniversary with a free and unique program. Astronaut Claudie Haigneré, the place’s godmother, evokes the city’s past and future. Interview.

25 years ago you were among the guests present at the inauguration of the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse. What memories do you have of it?
That day I do not have very precise memories. On the other hand, I well remember the moment when Dominique Baudis asked me to become the godmother of the Cité de l’Espace. It was in 1996 that I flew aboard the Mir station and I accepted. This moment symbolizes my role as godmother, through which I want to speak to a wide audience, but also to young people to transfer the passion, curiosity and enthusiasm for space science to them.

Almost 25 years later, you are still one of the faithful among the believers, how have you seen the Cité de l’Espace develop?
It has truly evolved, expanded, while preserving its base and its DNA, which is to discover, love, and attract the widest audience to these spaceships. In the beginning, it was primarily for kids, and then it opened up thanks to more activities. The Cité de l’Espace has been very good at using new technologies and adapting to space innovations. For example, for Thomas Pesquet’s plane, we had this control room, which almost allowed us to be with him in his mission. Today, the city hosts the Mars terrain with replicas of Rovers currently on Mars. We are really in the follow-up, and even the anticipation for the news. It is amazing to be in touch with the transformation of today’s space.

Today, the Cité de l’Escpace is popular with tourists and scientists …
I would add to the economic and industrial space ecosystem, with the presence of small start-ups, CNES teams and great scientists like Sylvestre Maurice, who has just received a major international award.

The Cité de l’Espace has welcomed 7 million visitors since opening, can we talk about success?
For three years we have been in a huge dynamic, but if there were complicated years before. Its director Jean Baptiste Desbois was able to drive transformations that worked. Cité de l’Espace retains its appeal thanks to its new proposals, to question its teams of brokers who renew their training formulas to integrate new technologies, stick to current events … It is not at all a house that falls into sleep.

How do you see the Cité de l’Espace in 25 years?
The return to the Moon will be very important in the next five years. It is already anticipated with the Lune exhibition, and we will follow it very closely. There will also be the James Webb Telescope, which will take us to the end of the universe, Ariane 6, … The important thing in the 21st century is that children retain this curiosity, this wonder of space. If the City can continue to lead them; to raise their gaze, it is important.

When will a Frenchman be in the room, after you?
There is a selection going on, four or six people will be selected, I hope among them there will be Frenchmen and why a woman. I would be very happy. For my part, I know I was able to influence young girls to inspire them, to give them audacity. But these examples should not be too time-shifting, hence the need for a younger woman today.

A festive Saturday

This Saturday, June 25, the Cité de l’espace celebrates its 25th anniversary and invites the public to come and celebrate this anniversary around a free and unique program.
From 14:00 to 23:00: the public will be able to take advantage of the permanent offer from the Cité de l’Espace – exhibitions, films, workshops – and discover the Mars terrain.
From 16:00: Many meetings will mark this anniversary to arouse the curiosity of young and old, including duo workshops between Cité de l’Espace organizers and scientists. More information about events: https://25ans.cite-espace.com/. Access by registration required for the public at this link.
From 8 pm: the public will meet a set of guests who will take them into the future to discover major space projects and the challenges of the 21st century. Among these guests: many personalities from the space world, scientists, scientists and artists …

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