November 18, 2014

Canada’s Homegrown Astronaut: Chris Hadfield

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Written by: Kris Hull
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(This article originally appeared on

Colonel Chris Hadfield (RCAF ret.) is probably one of the most easily recognizable astronauts today. His popularity was spurred to rock star-like status in 2012 while he was training for his final spaceflight, a five-month stay on the International Space Station. Recently, Col. Hadfield made a stop in Everett, WA, to promote his newest book, You are Here – Around the World in 92 Minutes, and AirlineReporter had a few minutes to sit down and talk with this amazing man about his missions, his infamous tweets, and his books.

Col. Chris Hadfield describes life onboard the International Space Station to a packed house at the Future of Flight – Photo: Kris Hull

Col. Chris Hadfield describes life onboard the International Space Station to a packed house at the Future of Flight – Photo: Kris Hull

In the last fifteen to twenty years, no astronaut has risen to the popularity that Chris Hadfield has. As one of the few Canadian astronauts, he has had the honor of flying into space three times: twice on the Space Shuttle, and once on a Soyuz. On his last mission, he assumed command of the International Space Station, only the second non-American or Russian to hold that honor. He was the only Canadian to visit the Russian space station Mir and was the first Canadian to walk in space.

When asked about his two space walks, and what it was like to exit that hatch for the first time, he said “It’s very visually powerful. It is overwhelmingly visually powerful outside. You have the Earth going by underneath you at five miles a second, and all of the colors that exist, the textures, are just amazing. When you look the other way, it is the complete blackness of the universe going on forever. And you are in the middle of all of this, hanging onto a silver and white man-made structure, holding on with one hand. The onslaught coming in through your eyes is amazing. Your eyes is the only sense that tells you were you are. It is an overwhelming experience. When I go back and watch the video of the first time I exited the hatch, I can see that I just stopped for several seconds and just took it all in. We over use the words awesome and incredible, but walking in space is both of these things.”

As a veteran of two space shuttle missions, STS-74 aboard Atlantis and STS-100 aboard Endeavour, as well as flying a Soyuz capsule to the International Space Station, he is commonly asked which spacecraft he prefers. “The question is better put as ‘which do you prefer? a moving truck or a smart car?” he said. “They are both intricately designed vehicles. I wouldn’t want a moving truck if I was only commuting to work, and I wouldn’t want a Smart Car if I was hauling a bunch of stuff around or needed a crew of six.

They are both amazing and well designed. One is smoother going up, and the other is smoother going down. It really doesn’t matter! I would gladly fly on either one of them again.” He shares a very similar sentiment about his missions.

“No one single mission really stands out to me. They were all great. On my first mission, I took part in the second trip to a space station with a shuttle, on the second, I helped build the ISS, and on my third, I took command of the ISS for the last half of my time in orbit. I was a NASA/CSA astronaut for 21 years, and the entire time was memorable. I would gladly do it all over again.”

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About the Author

Kris Hull



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