French astronaut lands on International Space Station – and is asked to fix the loo

He was a “space fanatic” as a child and as an adult did years of rigorous training to become an astronaut. But when he finally made it into orbit, Thomas Pesquet was quickly brought back down to earth when one of his first tasks was to fix the toilet on the International Space Station.

The 38-year-old Frenchman landed at the ISS last Saturday alongside NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson – who at 56 became the oldest woman in space – and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy.

Pesquet has become a national hero in the French press in recent weeks as this is the first French space mission in nearly a decade.

He played with a floating globe as he spoke via video link to journalists back home on Wednesday about his about his first few days aboard the ISS and how one of his first jobs there was to repair the loo.

“It was a spot of bad luck,” he said. “But at the same time I reckoned that as this happened at the start of the mission we have used up our quota of bad luck.”

The rookie astronaut appeared to have a toilet fixation on his debut space mission, as his first tweets during the two-day trip on a Soyuz crew capsule to the ISS was of a picture of the vessel’s rudimentary WC.

He might consider entering the Space Poop Challenge launched last month by Nasa, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Nasa is offering a prize of $30,000 to anyone who before Dec 20 can come up with an idea on what to do with human bodily waste if you have to wear a spacesuit for days on end.