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Chris Hadfield speaks to 820 students live from space


Uploaded on January 21, 2013


Chris Hadfield speaks to 820 students live from space

2013-01-17 - On January 17, 2013, Chris Hadfield took part in a space to ground connection with some 820 students gathered at the Chris Hadfield Public School in Milton, ON, his hometown. With the help of fellow Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen hosting the event on the ground, Hadfield answered student questions and even played a little guitar while floating some 380 km above the Earth aboard the International Space Station. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)


Jeremy Hansen: Good morning, Chris! It’s Jeremy here. Great to see you in space, as always. I’ve got to tell you, it’s really awesome. Your school is cool. And I saw a picture of you in the front door made out of the photos with students from the school, so I thought that was pretty neat. So an awesome school you have here. I’ve got some really excited kids who want to learn a little bit about space, so I’m going to get going with the questions here. I’ll be standing right here, Chris. Now everybody, Chris can’t see us. We can see him. He can only hear us. So I’ll be standing here, Chris. So if you need any help or any demonstrations, you just ask and I’ll help you out. So here’s our first question.

Sundas Siddiqui: Hi, Commander Hadfield. My name is Sundas Siddiqui, and I’m in Grade 5. I would like to know what might be the coolest thing you’ve ever seen in space.

Chris Hadfield: Good morning, Sundas. The coolest thing I’ve ever seen in space… let’s see. I think maybe the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in space is sunrise. When the sun comes up, Sundas, it is beautiful. We come around the world, and we sort of drive into the sunshine. And the whole horizon suddenly glows beautiful orange and every colour of the rainbow. And then the sun bursts up, and the Space Station out these windows – the big solar array – suddenly, they glow blood red and then yellow and orange and then blue as the light shines on them, and then suddenly we’re in the daylight. And that happens so fast, and it happens 16 times a day. So I think the coolest thing is sunrise.

Jeremy Hansen: Great question. And because Chris Hadfield is in space, it takes a few seconds for the answers for our questions to get to Chris and then for the message to get back to us.

Student: Hi, Commander Hadfield. My name is [name unintelligible], and I’m in Grade 3. I would like to know, do you think you are going to find something interesting up in space that you can use for science? If you do, what do you think it might be?

Chris Hadfield: We’re finding out all sorts of things. Behind me right here is a Canadian experiment that’s looking at how to make materials better like paint, where there’s little tiny bits of stuff dissolved in a liquid, that on Earth they behave differently because of gravity. We’re also collecting energy from the universe to try to find out what the universe is made of. We’re collecting dark matter and trying to understand antimatter. And there’s a big magnet on the top of the Space Station to collect that. And we’re also understanding the human body of how to – how our system works better, how we balance, how we see. Because when you take away gravity, a lot of things change. So it’s a really good laboratory to study the body. So I think there’s all sorts of different things we’re going to find here that are going to help us understand the universe better and help us live better on Earth.

Riley Ford [ph]: Hi, Commander Hadfield. My name is Riley Ford [ph], and I’m in Grade 4. I would like to know, do you know if there are any living things in space?

Chris Hadfield: Riley, that’s a good question. We’ve been looking. We have sent probes to pretty much every planet in the solar system and a couple of the moons. We’ve been to a few asteroids. We even have a couple of spaceships that have gone out of our solar system, basically, beyond where the sun has an influence. It’s right on the edge of that now. And we have not found any living thing anywhere else except Earth and here on the International Space Station. We’re looking. But we did just find out, using the Hubble telescope and other telescopes, that we think pretty much every star has planets. And even in just our galaxy, there are billions of stars. So there are billions and billions of planets. So it’s probably not that there isn’t other living things; it’s probably just that we haven’t found it yet.

Riley Ford [ph]: Thanks.

Student: Hi, Commander Hadfield. My name is [name unintelligible], and I am in Grade 1. I would like to know, what is the hardest part of being in charge of the ISS?

Chris Hadfield: What’s the hardest part of being in charge of the ISS? I think the hardest part is being ready all the time for things to go badly. Because when things are going well, it’s easy to be in charge. When everybody’s having a good time and nothing’s broken, then it’s not so hard being in charge. But you have to be ready all the time. You can’t just be surprised when things go badly. And so I think the hardest part about being in charge is always being ready so that you can do the right thing when things go badly. And that might mean if a meteorite came through this wall right here now and we started losing pressure, or if we had a fire, or if somebody’s family got sick – something like that. So that’s the hardest part, is always being ready for things to go wrong.

Student: Thanks.

Jeremy Hansen: Okay, Chris, I think we’re ready for a space trick. We’ve got more questions, but maybe you could give us a quick space trick – a flip or something like that.

[Laughter and cheering]

Ibrahim Vakil: Hi, Commander Hadfield. My name is Ibrahim Vakil, and I’m in Grade 6. I would like to know, how would your body be affected by being in space for a long time?

Chris Hadfield: Your body has a lot of changes when you take away gravity. First is, you don’t know how to balance. There’s no way to say which way is up. I can go any way I like, and it all feels like I’m right side up. It doesn’t matter. So it’s really confusing at first to have no up or down. Your body gets very confused by that. The next is, gravity doesn’t push your blood down to your feet anymore. So your whole fluid shifts. It’s like standing on your head, so you get a big headache and everything moves up to your head. You get a big swollen head. But also, your body decides, I don’t need a strong skeleton anymore, and so you start to lose your skeleton. So we exercise really hard. Two hours every day to keep our skeleton, our muscles strong. The rest of it we just let sort of get used to being in space. My legs got really skinny up here in space because gravity’s not pushing the blood down into my legs. There’s no extra fluid there. But when I get home, it’ll all change again, and I’ll readapt to being an earthling. But right now, I’m a spaceling.

Nikky Rodriguez: Hi, Commander Hadfield. My name is Nikky Rodriguez, and I am in Grade 2. I would like to know, when you get close to a star, what does it really look like? I want to know so I can draw them better.

Chris Hadfield: Stars come in all different sizes. Ours is just a little one. The sun is just kind of a little sort of yellow star. There are red ones. There are ones that look sort of brownish. There are huge white ones. There are some that look sort of blue. It depends on what chemicals are in them and how strong they are. But from the Space Station, you know what they look like? They look like perfect points of light, like an absolutely beautiful, perfect diamond of light. They don’t even twinkle. Just a piercing, brilliant point of light. That’s what stars look like from here. Because there’s nothing in the way. In between my eyes and the star, there’s nothing to stop the light. They’re perfect.

Nikky Rodriguez: Thanks.

James Campbell: Hi, Commander Hadfield. My name is James Campbell, and I’m in Grade 8. It’s said that when you go up in a spaceship, you move so fast that when you come back to Earth, you are 0.00001 seconds younger. I would like to know if that is true and, if so, how?

Chris Hadfield: One of the smartest people that we have ever produced as a species – one of the smartest humans ever – was a guy named Albert. And Albert did the mathematics and figured that out. There was no way to prove his mathematics, but Albert figured it out. And he found that if you do the math, the faster you go, the slower time should go. And if you get up to the speed of light, the time slows way, way down. Now light goes – you know, the sun makes light, and it takes a few minutes to get to the Earth. But light goes 300,000 kilometres a second. 300,000 kilometres every second! That’s how fast light goes. We’re only going 8 kilometres a second. So you guys are going a lot slower than I am. So therefore, my time moves very, very slightly differently than yours. But if I was going way faster, then if a second went by for me, it might seem like a minute to you. So when I came back to Earth, you’d be a lot older than I would. But we’re not going anywhere near that fast. And I don’t even know if I’ll be able to tell the difference in my life of 0.0001 seconds. When we get going faster, maybe, but for now, we can’t really even see the difference. And that Albert was Albert Einstein.

James Campbell: Thanks.

Lisa Who [ph]: Hi, Commander Hadfield. My name is Lisa Who [ph], and I’m in Grade 7. Temperature change and dampness affects the sound and shape of a guitar. I would like to know, does your guitar sound different on the ISS than it does on Earth? Is there anything you have to change on your guitar, or how you play it to make it sound right?

Chris Hadfield: Yes, temperature, humidity affect the guitar. A guitar like this one. And this is a wooden guitar. It’s made in Vancouver. It’s a Larrivée guitar. But I find up on the Space Station that I have to tune it more often. It seems to go out of tune a little more often, partially because of the dry air up here. Partially, though, because I can’t ever set my guitar somewhere. I normally have to hook it somewhere, and I hook it by the tuners. And so I constantly have to tune it. But it ends up sounding pretty good. Here, I’ll play it just a little bit. [Strums guitar] Sounds pretty good, actually. [Applause and cheering]

Jeremy Hansen: I don’t know if the mic is picking up the cheers and the applause, Chris, but everyone loved that.

Lisa Who [ph]: Thank you.

Student: Hi, Commander Hadfield. How might I become an astronaut?

Chris Hadfield: That’s a good question. How can you become an astronaut? Really, how can you become anything? You know, how are you going to grow up to be Principal of Chris Hadfield Public School? Or the Mayor of Milton? Or an airline pilot like my dad? Or whoever, you know. How are you going to grow up to be anything? Part of it, number one, is decide what you might want to be. Think about it. What might I want to be? Because it should be something that’s really exciting to you. Something that you really want to do. And then, start turning yourself into that person. You can start to turn yourself into an astronaut today. And it doesn’t happen just like that. You can ask Jeremy Hansen. It takes a lot of years. But every single decision you make turns you a little bit into the person you’re going to be tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. And so if you want to be an astronaut, you need to keep your body in shape, so you need to think about, you know, not letting yourself get fat, think about what you eat, and exercise. You need to learn things, so you have to choose what courses to take and how you’re going to study, what you’re going to watch on TV. And you need to learn how to work. And so you might think about working around the house, or maybe doing a summer job or delivering newspapers or something, and then later on, how, you know, are you going to go to school? What job are you going to get? And day by day – it doesn’t just choose to be an astronaut. You have to turn yourself into who you want to be. So what I’d recommend is just start thinking about it and then realize that the decisions you make every day turn you into who you’re going to be tomorrow.

Student: Hi, Commander Hadfield. What gave you inspiration to being the most successful Canadian astronaut?

Chris Hadfield: Wow. The most successful Canadian astronaut? I don’t know if I’m the most successful Canadian astronaut. I’m the one who’s in space right now, but Marc Garneau flew three times in space, and he was our first Canadian in space. And Julie Payette – she was the chief engineer of the space shuttle. So she had to be responsible for everything on the space shuttle. So we’ve had a lot of very good, successful astronauts. But the things that I’m doing now – they’re because I started working at it when I was your age. When I was – before I was even 10 years old, I decided to be an astronaut. And I started working at it. And studying and thinking about it. And making my body ready for it. And I’ve been studying my whole life and training and really thinking about what I want to do with my life, and then working towards it. And now, as a result, now I’m old – I’m 53. But now here I am having a chance to live and work and play guitar on board a spaceship, and actually command a spaceship. So I think if there’s anything that would make me a successful astronaut, it’s because of pursuing my dreams and years of hard work.

Student: Thanks.

Student: Hi, Commander Hadfield. What is the first thing you would like to do when you come back home?

Chris Hadfield: The first thing I’d like to do when I come back home is have a hot shower. Because on the Space Station, we don’t have any running water. We just have a little tap to get drinking water out of. So when we want to wash, we just have to use washcloths or little, little cloths to clean ourselves up. And I really like standing under a hot shower and having hot water on me and being able to get clean that way. So that’s something – I can still talk to my family from here, and I can do good work, and the food is good. But I can’t have a hot shower or a bath. That’s what I think I’ll like the most.

Student: Thanks.

Jeremy Hansen: Hey Chris, we can’t help but notice the windows behind you. What do you see when you look out a window?

Chris Hadfield: Let’s see. I can see the world. I can see where we are right now, which is just off the coast of South America. I can look up and see space, but plus, through the window I can see the Space Station. I can see the big solar arrays and the pieces of the Space Station. But that way is the universe, and that way is the world. And the world is this beautiful, big, blue curve. It’s just – it’s gorgeous. And it’s really fun to float to the window and see South America right there out your window. It’s just, it’s like a present… like a gift every time that suddenly gets opened when you go to the window.

Student: Hi, Commander Hadfield. Do you miss your family when you’re in space?

Chris Hadfield: That’s a good question. Yes, I do. I try to talk to my wife pretty much every day, and I talk to my kids pretty often. I have three children, and I email with them, and sometimes I can talk to them like I’m talking to you, with video. And sometimes I can almost – sort of like a Skype phone call. So I get to talk to them. But I don’t get to touch them. I don’t get to hug them. I don’t get to see them in person. So yes, I miss them.

Jeremy Hansen: So Chris, it looks like we only have one minute left. But I wondered if you had anything else you wanted to pass along to us. And we’d love to see a couple more space tricks before we lose you today.

Chris Hadfield: Well, okay. This is just my wristwatch. It’s just pretty cool living in weightlessness. It’s like – it’s like magic. It’s like you have a superpower where you can just fly and jump and soar and zip all over the place. It’s so much fun being weightless. And I only got here because, number one, I decided to – that’s what I decided to do with my life. And then number two, I worked at it for my whole life. And so, I really want to remind all of the Hadfield Hawks to think about that. What are you going to do with your life? You’re going to grow up to be something. Why don’t you choose what you might want to grow up to be, and then start making yourself into that person? You can do it slowly, day by day. And with that, it is amazing, one day at a time, one step at a time – it’s amazing where life can lead you. And Jeremy Hansen there with you, and me here on the Space Station – we are both evidence of that. It was great having a chance to join you in Milton. Hi to everybody that’s there in the room. And I’m going to do my best to get a good picture of Milton here as soon as the clouds clear and we’re overhead. I look forward to seeing you when I get back.

[Applause and cheering]

Principal Marks: Commander Hadfield, this is Principal Marks. On behalf of the students here and the staff and all the parents, and everybody on Earth who had a chance to see this, thank you. I wish you all the best on your mission and look forward to seeing you when you come back home.

Chris Hadfield: Thank you very much. We’ll play a little music on the way out.

[Chris Hadfield strums guitar]

Chris Hadfield: Bye, everybody!

[Applause and cheering] 

Mission Control: Station, this is Houston ACR. That concludes the event. Thank you.


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