Pedro Duque (Madrid, 1963) is known for being the first Spanish astronaut in the European Space Agency to ever travel to space. Graduated in Aeronautical Engineering, he is currently Head of the Flight Operations Office at the Columbus Control Centre of Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.
You are Head of the Flight Operations Office at the Columbus Control Centre of the European Space Agency. What does your job consist of?
My card says astronaut and head of this office. On the one hand, I keep my self fit and able to pass the European Space Agency tests to remain on the list of people who can travel to space; on the other hand, my everyday life at this office of the Agency consists on supervising the work of every person that works in Europe for the Space Station, who are the ones that prepare the experiments, talk with the astronauts, read the data collected on how the European systems are working up there… All these people need someone from the European Space Agency to supervise them, and that is what I do.
You have been some times in outer space. But, what is your pending journey?
Yes, a space journey.
I have to be realistic, and I think that Europe is not going to be able invest enough money to send a European astronaut to the moon for a long time. Besides, I will probably have already retired by the time that is possible. I mean, of course I would like to do these things, but it is not possible. Within the range of what is possible… a journey to the Space Station in charge of a special responsibility, to carry out a specific experiment, assembling a new system…The kind if thing that falls within the category of possible. A new journey in a new rocket would be the best.
Maybe after the crisis we can make up for lost investments…
That is the worst part. After a crisis, lost investments result in backwardness.
Finally, many poets have written about the stars. Taking into account that you have seen them from up close, what vision do you prefer, the poetic one or the scientific one?
I cannot find a difference. Our inspiration, what truly thrills us, is knowing how things actually are. For us, knowledge and emotion are connected.
* Read the whole interview here, in Revista Mètode.