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Jean-Loup Chrétien
Born 20 August 1938(1938-08-20) (age 83)
Place of birth La Rochelle, France
Rank Brigadier General, French Air Force

Jean-Loup Jacques Marie Chrétien (born 20 August 1938) is a French retired Général de Brigade (brigadier general) in the Armée de l'Air (French air force), and a former CNES spationaut. He flew on two Franco-Soviet space missions and a NASA Space Shuttle mission. Chrétien was the first Frenchman and the first western European in space.


Born in the town of La Rochelle, France. Married to and then divorced from Amy Kristine Jensen of New Canaan, Connecticut. Five children (one deceased), among whom one daughter named Lauren with Amy. Lauren and her mother currently live in Houston, TX. Hobbies include skiing in Winter and sailing in Summer. He also enjoys golf, wind-surfing, car-rallying and woodworking. In addition, he plays the church organ, and took an electric one with him during his first stay in Star City, Russia. His father, Jacques, was a Navy sailor, and his mother, the former Marie-Blanche Coudurier, was a housewife. Chrétien is fluent in French, English and Russian.


Chrétien was educated at L'École communale à Ploujean, the Collège Saint-Charles à Saint-Brieuc, and the Lycée de Morlaix. He entered the École de l'Air (the French Air Force Academy) at Salon-de-Provence in 1959, and graduated in 1961, receiving a master's degree in aeronautical engineering.


Member of the board of the "Académie de l'Air et de l'Espace", and the French Air and Space Museum. Former Counselor for Space Activities (Manned) to the President of Dassault Aviation. Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the International Academy of Astronautics, and the Association of Space Explorers. Member of the Board of BRIT AIR, an airline in his hometown, Morlaix.

Awards and honors[]


Chrétien received his fighter pilot/pilot-engineer wings in 1962, after one year of training on Mystère IVs. He was promoted to Lieutenant, and joined the 5th Fighter Squadron in Orange, in the Southeast of France, where he served for seven years as a fighter pilot in an operational squadron flying Super-Mystere B2’s and then Mirage III interceptors. In 1970, he was assigned to the French test pilots school, EPNER (Ecole du Personnel Navigant d'Essais et de Réception), then served as a test pilot at the Istres Flight Test Center for seven years. During that time he was responsible for supervising the flight test program for the Mirage F-1 fighter. In 1977–78, he was appointed Deputy Commander of the South Air Defence Division in Aix en Provence, and he served in this position until his selection as a cosmonaut in June 1980. Chrétien remained a French Air Force officer but was placed on detachment to CNES for his space flight activities ensuring his availability for future flights with the Shuttle (NASA), Mir (Soviet Union) or Spacelab (ESA). He has accumulated over 8000 hours of flying time in various aircraft, including Russia’s Tupolev 154, MiG-25, and Sukhoi Su-26 and Sukhoi Su-27. A veteran of three space flights, Chrétien was the 10th Intercosmos cosmonaut, and has spent a total of 43 days, 11 hours, 18 minutes, 42 seconds in space, including an of 5 hours, 57 minutes.

In April 1979, the Soviet Union offered France the opportunity to fly a cosmonaut on board a joint Soviet-French space flight, along the same lines as the agreement to fly non-Soviet cosmonauts from member countries of the Intercosmos program. The offer was accepted, and France began a spationaut selection process in September 1979. Chrétien was one of two finalists named on 12 June 1980. He started training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in September 1980. The following year he was named as the Research Cosmonaut for the prime crew of the Soyuz T-6 mission.

Soyuz T-6 was launched on 24 June 1982, and Chrétien, Dzhanibekov and Ivanchenkov linked up with Salyut 7 and joined the crew of Berezovoi and Lebedev already on board. They spent nearly seven days carrying out a program of joint Soviet-French experiments, including a series of French echography cardiovascular monitoring system experiments, before returning to Earth after a flight lasting 7 days, 21 hours, 50 minutes, 42 seconds. This flight made him the first Western non-American to go to space, as well as the first Western European.

Jean-Loup Chrétien

Following the mission he was appointed Chief, CNES Astronaut Office.

Chrétien was selected as the back-up crew member for STS-51-G (Patrick Baudry, another CNES astronaut, flew on that mission). During 1984–85, he participated in mission training at the Johnson Space Center.

Chrétien made his second space flight as a Research Cosmonaut on board Soyuz TM-7, which launched on 26 November 1988. Together with Volkov and Krikalev, he linked up with Mir and joined the crew of Titov, Manarov and Polyakov already on board. They spent 22 days carrying out a program of joint Soviet-French experiments, including a 5-hour and 57 minute EVA by Volkov and Chrétien during which the two men installed the French ERA experimental deployable structure and a panel of material samples. In making the EVA, he became the first non-American and non-Soviet to walk in space. In addition, he was the first non-Soviet cosmonaut to make a second space flight aboard a Soviet spacecraft. The mission lasted 24 days, 18 hours, 7 minutes.

During 1990–93, Chrétien participated in Buran spacecraft pilot training at the Moscow Joukovski Institute. He has also flown the Tupolev 154 and MiG-25 aircraft, flying simulators equivalent to the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA).

In 1994, he was selected as part of NASA Astronaut Group 15 to officially become an International Mission Specialist with NASA.

Chrétien attended ASCAN Training at the Johnson Space Center during 1995. He was initially assigned to work technical issues for the Operations Planning Branch of the Astronaut Office. He served on the crew of STS-86 Atlantis (25 September to 6 October 1997) the seventh mission to rendezvous and dock with the Russian Space Station Mir. Highlights included the delivery of a Mir attitude control computer, the exchange of U.S. crew members Mike Foale and David Wolf, a spacewalk by Scott Parazynski and Vladimir Titov to retrieve four experiments first deployed on Mir during the STS-76 docking mission, the transfer to Mir of 10,400 pounds of science and logistics, and the return of experiment hardware and results to Earth. Mission duration was 10 days, 19 hours, 21 minutes.

In September 2000, while visiting a Home Depot store in Webster, Texas, he was hit by a 68-pound (31 kg) drill press that fell from a shelf more than 10 feet (3.0 m) above him. The injuries to his neck, head and shoulders were severe enough that a NASA flight surgeon determined that Chrétien could no longer fly. He was forced to retire from the space program in 2001. He filed a $15 million lawsuit against Home Depot several months after the accident. The company settled the suit in 2002. The terms of the settlement are protected by a confidentiality agreement.[2] Chrétien is currently working for Tietronix Software as the vice president of Research and Development in Houston, Texas.


  1. (Russian) Biography at the website on Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia
  2. Accident grounded astronaut

External links[]

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