Ever since Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to cross the frontier of space in 1961, what child has not dreamed of one day following in his footsteps? Clément Huber also had this dream, and he has never been so close to realising it. Up until now, he has fulfilled many other dreams born of his early thirst for adventure, commitment and exploration of the three dimensions of space.
As a teenager, he tried paragliding and at the age of 16, he obtained his basic licence, which allowed him to fly solo around his flying club. He also practises diving and mountaineering.
This physical commitment did not prevent him from carrying out excellent studies which led him to join ENSTA Paris, from which he graduated in 2016.
"At ENSTA Paris, the complex systems aspect favours a multidisciplinary approach. The training is very complete and prepares us for the different aspects of a technical project. This multiphysics and even multicultural approach - since the part given to human training is very important - brings real added value to the course. Its flexibility also allows to adapt to each individual."
It was his specialisation in robotics that ultimately earned him his first job at Navya, a French company specialising in the design and construction of autonomous, electric and robotic vehicles.
Now that he is aiming for the stars, this proven competence in robotics is not the least of his assets.
"Manned space missions to the Moon and Mars will require strong interaction between humans and robotic systems, which will be crucial for terrain reconnaissance or sample collection. Not to mention the robotic arm of the International Space Station, which is essential during the installation of new equipment or during astronauts' spacewalks. This is where my experience in robotics could make a difference. I have both a general engineering background thanks to ENSTA Paris, with specific skills in robotics, and also 4 years of professional experience in the field, with practical tests on vehicles. Analysing robotic faults and finding new solutions quickly is really my expertise."
However, Clément Huber is well aware of the fact that, at first, it is above all his human qualities and his ability to live together in a confined environment that will be scrutinised throughout the recruitment process. In addition to his natural inclination for camaraderie, which he had demonstrated at the ENSTA Paris BDE, his recent experience as a cadet at the Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan military academy will not fail to help him.
"In terms of surpassing oneself, group spirit and the ability to keep one's wits in a stressful situation, it is an excellent school. It did me a lot of good to get out of my comfort zone and to confront myself with the reality of the field. Now I know what esprit de corps is, and I'm not too worried about the survival course that is part of the astronaut training, in case of landing outside the planned area."
Now that his application has been submitted, Clément Huber is preparing for the next step, hoping that it will be favourable. In order to be sure of being able to communicate in all the languages used on the International Space Station, he is perfecting his Russian, in addition to the Japanese he learned during an internship in Japan as part of his course at ENSTA Paris. To prepare for the training sessions for the spacewalk, which take place in a huge swimming pool in a diving suit, he has taken up diving again. And to get closer to the stars, he returned to the Versoud aerodrome in Isère, where he had taken his first steps towards the sky.
« For me, going into space is not a goal in itself. It would of course be a privilege and a great adventure, but I want to bring back scientific contributions and discoveries that will benefit everyone on Earth and enable us to face the major challenges of tomorrow, particularly in terms of climate. »
He knows that there is still a long way to go before the announcement of the six astronauts and twenty reservists finally selected in the autumn of 2022. But Clément Huber has already demonstrated his motivation, endurance and perseverance. And whatever the result, he will have added new strings to his bow. This is the hallmark of generalist engineers trained at ENSTA Paris, who have a solid scientific foundation and know how to learn from each experience, to adapt to change and imagine a sustainable future.