ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet (FR) is assigned to fly on the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft to the International Space Station, scheduled for launch in November 2016. His crew mates will be cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky of Roscosmos and Peggy Whitson of NASA.
His mission is called 'proxima'. Thomas will be the 10th astronaut from France to head into space and his mission name continues the French astronaut tradition of referring to stars and constellations. The name was chosen from over 1300 entries to ESA’s competition earlier this year.
The winning name was provided by 13-year-old Samuel Planas from Toulouse, France. “Proxima is the closest star to our Sun and is the most logical first destination for a voyage beyond our Solar System,” explains Samuel. “Proxima also refers to how human spaceflight is close to people on Earth.” The logo continues the exploration theme, with star trails evoking future space travel and exploration beyond low-Earth orbit. Two stylised planets can represent our Earth and Moon or the Moon and Mars.
The ‘x’ in Proxima is centred in the middle of the patch to signify the star Proxima Centauri. It also refers to the unknown, as well as Thomas being the tenth French space voyager. The three coloured vertical lines form an outline of the International Space Station and also represent Earth, the Moon and Mars, as well as hinting at the French national flag.
The patch was designed by Thomas Pesquet and Karen Oldenburg.