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A Different kind of local talent…

Posted in: Friends & Neighbours, News | No Comments | Posted on by Mary Anne

As reported in Sarnia Observer December 11, 2021

Chris Hadfield, on his third trip to outer space, says he’ll have plenty of time to get a winning shot of Sarnia.

The Sarnia-born astronaut is heading to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Dec. 19, one of three astronauts in the Expedition 34/35 crew.

The first Canadian to walk in space and the only Canadian aboard the Russian Space Station Mir, Hadfield will be the first Canadian commander at the International Space Station for part of his five-month stay in zero-gravity. He will oversee more than 100 experiments — from gauging balance and blood pressure regulation in space, to studying dark matter.

“It’s surreal,” said Hadfield, 53, during a conference call from quarantine in Kazakhstan Tuesday.

He recalls pretending to fly spaceships with his brother while growing up on a farm in southern Ontario.

“When we were supposed to be sleeping we would both pull our knees up as if your knees were supposed to be the control panel of your own spaceship …,” he said. “For me it’s just surreal that in just over a week I’m going to climb into a Russian spaceship as a pilot … with my knees drawn up to my chest because it’s small … and then I’m going to command a spaceship on the space station.”

Hadfield, who decided to be an astronaut as a boy after witnessing the lunar landing while his family vacationed on Stag Island, flew to Mir with NASA in 1995 and six years later delivered and installed the Canadian-built robotic Canadarm2 at the International Space Station.

Snapshots of Sarnia from space, taken on both occasions, hang in Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley’s office.

“I am absolutely going to do my best for Mayor Bradley and for my fellow citizens of Sarnia to get a good, updated picture of the town,” Hadfield said. “And hopefully this time it won’t be such a rush because I’m in space long enough that I’ll even be able to get different seasonal pictures. I won’t have to just force it with the weather I have.”

Bradley is also planning an event to have all of Sarnia’s lights on for Hadfield to see as the space station passes overhead.

“ Even though I’ve been to 50 countries, I’ve been around the world hundreds of times … Sarnia really makes me feel like home,” Hadfield said. “So it is a special place in my heart.”

The astronaut’s family, including his wife and three children, will be visiting him in Kazakhstan before the launch for a sort of “unusual” Christmas get-together.

“It’s going to be a really heartwarming part of the experience to have a few days visiting with my family — a lot of it from behind glass because I don’t want to catch a cold … just before launch,” he said.

He’s taking jewelry — watches, pins, and a ring — with him to the space station as tokens for his family when he returns.

Meanwhile, he’s doing last minute preparation for the trip, including refresher classes on information about station systems and experiments.

His priorities for the mission, he said, are crew safety, space station safety, and the experiments — in that order.


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