Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/4/2011 (4095 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THIS past Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the first mission to space -- when cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed an orbit of the Earth in a Russian spacecraft on April 12, 1961.
Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space, shuttled into Winnipeg to mark the occasion, paying tribute to the late cosmonaut with talks Tuesday at the Manitoba Museum and Chief Peguis Junior High about his experiences in space and what it takes to become an astronaut.
Hadfield was the first Canadian astronaut to perform a spacewalk when he installed Canadarm2 on the International Space Station (ISS) on April 19, 2001. His next mission is set to launch in December 2012, where he will become the first Canadian to command the ISS when he takes part in Expedition 34/35.
Hadfield studied mechanical engineering at Royal Military College and has a Master of Science in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee.
The 52-year-old father of three, who grew up on a corn farm in Milton, Ont., is currently on a four-city tour of Canada, and sat down with the Free Press to answer some fun questions, including his thoughts on food, music and love.
Q: If you didn't become an astronaut, what other career would you have chosen?
A: If I got to be a test pilot, and then didn't get selected as an astronaut, I was going to go back and get my PhD and work at one of the universities where they have teaching and flying programs as a teaching test pilot. I think that's what I would have ended up as some kind of engineering and flying (career), but I've loved every job I've ever had. I'm extremely lucky.
Q: Describe what space food tastes like.
A: Your tastebuds are suppressed because of the fluid shift. It's like having a head cold. So a lot of the food is over spicy, with extra horseradish, extra piquante sauce, extra salt and pepper on it, just so it has more flavour. And we have to trade that off because too much salt, of course, is bad for you, especially up there where you have less fluid in the body. The food's OK, just reheated food, like ours is. I wouldn't go to space for the food.
Q: Of all the songs the Johnson Space Centre has played to wake the crew, what's your favourite?
A: The reason we play those songs is to wake the crew up, to rev them up, to get the day going... to give them some energy, but also maybe to represent where they are in the world and where they are in their lives. And for me, one of the songs that's been chosen the most and that I think is one of my favourites is What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. (He starts singing) "Wonderful world, trees of green, red roses, too..." That one. To me, even though it's not a rock 'n' roll rev-up kind of cruise song, it's a song that just haunts you and really helps you appreciate the magic of what you're doing and what you're seeing out the window.
Q: Did you ever take voice lessons? You have a great voice.
A: I've played in bands, I front two bands. I sang with the Houston Symphony last week, actually -- an original song. It was set orchestrally. I play music a lot, I played with the Guess Who, and a bunch of different people, oddly enough.
Q: What's your favourite song to play?
A: I like songs with a haunting melody, with words that mean something. Once in a while I like playing a stupid song like Stickshifts and Safetybelts by Cake. What a great song to play, but it means nothing. I'll be writing songs in orbit and recording it, and put it all together afterwards, which I think will be an interesting way to take a snapshot of our six months up there. Not just photography, but a sound snapshot, a composing snapshot up there.
Q: How did you and your wife meet?
A: We met at a high school play. I was in a high school play, The Man Who was Coming to Dinner. I had a bit part, she was doing make-up, and stage set, and we met. She was just 14 turning 15; I was 16. We went to school in Ontario, in Oakville. White Oaks Secondary School. We've been together for 36 years, married for 30 this year. Thirtieth anniversary of the shuttle, and our thirtieth anniversary also.