A Real Canadian “Hero”
Monday, October 22, 2012
When we think of true Canadian heroes, it’s often our hockey warriors are the first to spring to mind, or perhaps Olympians or entertainers might also occur to some. Other than those in the media glare; the sporty types and the movie stars, of the few remaining Canadian icons who fit the “hero” billing must be our astronauts, particularly Chris Hadfield.
For those who are unfamiliar with the man, Hadfield is currently preparing himself to command a six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS). It will be the Canuckonaut’s third voyage into space although, at a half a year, it will be, by far, his longest adventure. It will also be the first time a Canadian has commanded an ISS mission.
"It's the difference between a quick visit somewhere — a drive past — and moving somewhere," Hadfield stated in a recent Canadian Press report. "You have to think about how many tooth brushes to bring, how you're going to set up life, how you're going to celebrate all the anniversaries."
Hadfield, a father and husband of three children is a Sarnia, Ontario native who grew up on a corn farm. He became interested in space at a very early age and when he was nine, after watching an Apollo moon landing, decided at that moment being an astronaut was going to be his goal.
He persued that goal with vigor, joining the Canadian Forces and attending the Royal Roads Military College where he earned honour marks while getting his Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Then joined the Air wing of the forces and in 1980 was named their best pilot. It is obvious that a drive for excellence is the mark of this man.
In 1992, Hadfield beat out 5330 other candidates to be one of four Canadians selected to join the Canadian Space Agency and was assigned to a placement with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. His selection as commander of this mission is a reflection on the high regard the international space community has for our countryman.
Regarding his first long-duration detail, which is scheduled to lift off on Dec 19th of this year, Hadfield appeared excited at the prospect.
"It's not just new for me, it's still new in the human experience," Hadfield said. "The stuff we're figuring out in our six months on space station ... is writing the book on how people are going to leave Earth."
To try and ignite in young people, the flame of passion for space like Hadfield had as a child, he has issued a challenged to all Canadian students to suggest experiments he could do during his voyage. The experiments must only use items that will already be on board the ISS, including items such as duck tape and dental floss.
"We're looking for a simple way to challenge people to think about the science and not bring extra equipment," Hadfield told CTV news when discussing the initiative. "It will be limited only by the imaginations of the students involved."
In another effort to share his adventure with the world, Hadfield has joined the “Twitterverse” and will be “tweeting” about his exploits on the social media site.
"I'm really looking forward to that experience myself, but even more than that, to share my experience with everyone around the world," he enthused. For those who wish to follow along, his “hashtag” is @Cmdr_Hadfield.