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Chris Hadfield answers questions live from space with the Governor General of Canada


Uploaded on January 30, 2013


Chris Hadfield answers questions live from space with the Governor General of Canada

2013-01-30 - On January 30, 2013, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield took part in a live space to Earth connection with His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and some 250 grade 5 and 6 students from the National Capital Region gathered at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario. Hadfield answered student questions and also demonstrated how he washes his hands in space while floating aboard the International Space Station 380 kn above the Earth. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)


His Excellency the Rt. Hon. David Johnston: Hi, Chris. We’re so proud of you and are following your adventures there. I hope Eddy is on his best behaviour and his snoring isn’t keeping you awake too much at night.

Chris Hadfield:  Eddy – lions make a lot noise when they snore, but we’ve been keeping Eddy inside a container inside a cupboard, so his snores have been muffled, but he rode up to space with me, and he’s been flying in space the whole time with me, Your Excellency. Thank you for giving him to me.

His Excellency the Rt. Hon. David Johnston: Chris, be careful he doesn’t sneak out of that cupboard. He’s quite an adventurer, as you know.

We’ve got a whole bunch of great students here with some questions. Let’s get on with them.

Moderator:   We have a first question here for you.

Question:   Hello. My name is Emily Tsu (ph), and I’m in Grade 6. I heard that your sense of taste gets weaker in space. Is that true?

Chris Hadfield:  Emily, your sense of taste, it’s sort of like when you have a cold. And when you have a cold, all of the stuff that normally drains out of your nose gets plugged up there. And part of your taste is from your tongue and your smell and your senses, and when you can’t smell, your food is hard to taste. It’s the same for astronauts because when we get to space, there’s no gravity to pull all the stuff out of our head, and so we get sort of a swollen head and it fills up our nose and makes our tongue kind of swollen. Then you can’t taste your food. But after a week or so, your body gets used to it. Your nose opens up again, and you can taste your food okay. But for the first week, it’s like having a cold. Then nothing tastes very strong or nothing tastes very good.

Moderator:   Another question.

Question:   Hi. My name’s Connell Sloan (ph) from Corpus Christi School in Grade 6, and I was wondering what would happen if you put a marshmallow outside the Space Station.

Chris Hadfield:  Well, you can see right through that window there, that’s outside the Space Station. There’s just a couple of layers of glass between us and what is out there, which is the vacuum of space. There’s no air. It’s completely empty. And in the sun, in the shiny part, it’s 150 degrees. And in the shade, it’s minus 120 degrees.

So let’s take your marshmallow and take it outside. Well, first, there’s no pressure. And in a marshmallow, there’s all that sort of air pockets all trapped in there. That’s what makes it all spongy, so your marshmallow would swell right up. And then if it went outside in the dark, if we were behind the Earth, your marshmallow would swell up and freeze. And so you’d have like a marshmallow snowball. And if your marshmallow was in the sun, if you went out on the sunny side, it would swell up and get all gooey, not like roasting a marshmallow, but you’d have a big gooey mass of a marshmallow, sort of like a big – big eyeball or something. So marshmallows wouldn’t be very good on the outside of the spaceship, but if we had a marshmallow on the inside of the spaceship, I’d eat it. (Laughter.)

Question:   Hi. I’m Madeleine Christian (ph) from Corpus Christi in Grade 6, and my question is you have been experiencing weightlessness for much longer than you have in your previous trips into space. Do you find there’s a difference?

Chris Hadfield:  Well, Madeleine, the big difference this time is I’m used to it. I can fly. I can go all different directions. I can – I can do whatever I want. It’s wonderful being in weightlessness this time. I’m fully adapted to it. I don’t just feel like a visitor here now. I feel like a spaceling. I mean it’s wonderful to get completely used to being weightless, to have your body used to it. I exercise two hours every day to keep myself strong, but my body loves being in weightlessness. It’s just – it’s wonderful to be able to fly and float — and watch this microphone — to just be able to float things to each other through space. It’s – it’s like magic. And to be able to be here for that magic for five months is a tremendous gift. I love it.

Question:   Hi. My name is Nicholas English (ph) from Corpus Christi School in Grade 6. My question is how do you wash your hands with soap and water in space?

Chris Hadfield:  How do we wash our hands? Nicholas, I brought something to answer your question. Look closely at the camera. You can see this. It is No Rinse Body Bath, No Rinse Body Bath. And it’s a bag with a straw. So now let’s demonstrate. Okay, it’s time to get clean. I’m going to squirt some water out. So we have a big ball of water, and you put it on your hand. And now I’ve got water floating around on my hand. And so I wash my hands up with that and then grab a towel and dry them off. So that’s how we do it.

We use No Rinse – it’s a special type of slightly soapy water, so you don’t need to have a bunch of fresh water afterwards. You squirt it. You float a ball of water in front of yourself and then you just dry your towel. And when you’re done, we just tuck our towel somewhere to let it air dry, so that the evaporated water gets back into the Space Station and we can use that water again. So it works pretty well. Sort of like – maybe sort of like if you were on a sailboat and you needed to get clean, you’d do it sort of the same way.

Question:   Hello. My name is Melissa, and I’m in Grade 6. And I would like to know is being in zero gravity like swimming underwater?

Chris Hadfield:  Yeah, it’s sort of like swimming. Next time you’re in a swimming pool, if you’ve got a nice indoor pool there somewhere in Ottawa that you go to or in the summertime when you’re in a lake or a river, try getting out of the water and completely relaxing every muscle. Relax every muscle in your body, like I am right here. And if you look at my arms, my arms aren’t down by my sides like on Earth. My arms float up. And they – sort of the same as water because there’s no gravity pulling them down. Your whole body’s like that. My knees come up. Even my shirt floats up around me.

So it’s more like floating in water all the time, not swimming in water because you can’t pull against the air. It doesn’t – I’ll show you. It won’t take me anywhere. It doesn’t – I just stand here because the air’s not as thick as water, so it’s more like just floating in water forever. It’s a beautiful freedom. It’s lovely to be able to just float around. So try it next time you’re in a pool.

Question:   Hi. My name is Owen, and I’m in Grade 6, and I was wondering what would happen if you tried to paint something in zero gravity.

Chris Hadfield:  Tried to paint something in zero gravity. Hm. Well, we do a little bit of art up here, but we don’t have paints because most paints have a smell to them. You know when you open a can of paint, it’s got that strong smell. And on Earth, you know, paint fumes, you don’t want to be locked in a small room spray painting because the fumes get really strong. Well, the Space Station is closed. Every – every smell that’s in here, there’s no place for it to go. There’s no way for it to get processed except by my lungs or maybe by the equipment. So most paints wouldn’t be a good thing up here just because of the strong smell that they have and the chemicals that would come out of them.

But I think a little bit of painting would be nice. We have artists who are astronauts who can draw and colour, use charcoal. So I think a little bit of painting would be good, but everything comes up here pre-painted.

Question:   Hi. My name is Tom Lee, and I’m in Grade 6. I’m wondering how long did it take to build the International Space Station?

Chris Hadfield:  Tom, the Space Station is big. I wish I could show you it all. It’s huge. It’s the size of five hockey rinks. It’s very big. And each piece came up one at a time, and we put them all together. The Canadarm, our big robot arm, reached out and grabbed each piece and attached it as we built the Station and made it bigger and bigger. And the very first piece came up 15 years ago, in 1998. I was working down in Mission Control that day. And we’ve slowly built it. I helped build it back on my first flight up here back 12 years ago. People started living here, I think, yeah, 12 years ago, and I’m on Expedition 35. So we’ve had people living here for a long time. And we’re still adding to it. There’s still pieces coming up. I think you read maybe this week that there’s a module that’s inflatable that we’re going to bring up in a couple of years, and the Russians still have a laboratory to come up.

So it’s slowly getting built. It’s like a city that you can never really say it’s finished. It started a long time ago, and we slowly add to it and make it bigger and more capable. And right now, it is the biggest, most powerful, most capable human building, laboratory in space that humanity has ever built.

Question:   Hi. I’m Luke Gees (ph), and I’m in Grade 6. And I was wondering what happens when you sneeze in space.

Chris Hadfield:  What happens when we sneeze in space? Well, let’s try. Okay, I’ll get myself set. I’m going to sneeze. Let’s see what happens. Let me get stable. Okay, I’m going to turn sideways to see what happens. Here we go. (Sneezes.) Nothing. (Sneezes.) Well, maybe I’m rotating a tiny bit.

So when sneeze, of course, your body is trying to get something out of your nose, and it pushes it out pretty fast. So that little bit of stuff pushing out of your nose would push you back very slightly, but you have a lot of mass, and the stuff coming out of your nose just has a tiny bit of mass, so it doesn’t move you very much. So – not much, but also in space, we cover our noses when we sneeze.

Question:   Hello. My name is Yusri (ph), and I’m in Grade 5. The question I would like to ask you is how do you sleep in space?

Chris Hadfield:  Oh, I sleep very well, thank you. It’s a bit different because in zero gravity, I don’t need a bed. So I just have a sleeping bag that is fixed, that’s attached to the wall. And I don’t need a pillow because my head doesn’t fall. I float. And so to sleep, I just get in the sleeping bag – floating against the wall, attached to the wall with a bit of Velcro – and I relax and fall asleep. It’s very comfortable. I think it’s much more comfortable to sleep – than sleeping on Earth with gravity.

Question:   Hi. My name is Graciella Panafada–Moreno (ph), and I’m in Grade 5. Why does the International Space Station travel so fast?
Chris Hadfield:  Huh, why do we travel so fast? We stay in space because we’re going fast. We’re going around the Moon – or I’m sorry, we’re going around the world like the Moon goes around the world. And let me explain it like this. If you went outside of the museum that you’re in, on the roof and jumped off the roof, gravity would pull you right down, and you’d get hurt. If you ran right across the roof really fast, run, run, run, run, run all the way across the roof and jumped off, you’d go quite a ways, but you’d still fall and hit the ground.

Well, imagine if you could go across that roof so fast, so fast that you, as you fell as you came off the roof, the Earth curved underneath you, so that you were falling, but you were going so fast that the Earth was curving away from you, so you never actually hit the ground. You just kept falling and the Earth kept curving. You have to go really fast, eight kilometres a second, 28,000 kilometres an hour. But if you can get yourself going 500 kilometres a minute then you will be weightless because you’ll fall at exactly the same speed that the Earth curves. And that’s why the Space Station has to go so fast to stay in orbit and to stay weightless.

Question:   Hello. My name is Ally (ph) Fitzgerald, and I’m in Grade 5. My question is what kind of foods do astronauts eat?

Chris Hadfield:  Ah, food. We have many, many different types of food here, but it’s not fresh. It’s not like the food you have at home. Dried food. We don’t have a fridge or a freezer on the Station for food. So the food looks like – this is dried fruit. I can open it. Just a minute. The microphone floats too. So this is – what’s this? Peaches. That’s space food. It’s not bad. And also, over here, what’s this? It’s soudac (ph). It’s from Russia. It’s like salmon. And it’s similar to what you have on Earth, with vegetables.

So it’s not gourmet food, but it’s pretty good. And it’s not like your mother’s home cooking. It’s not like in a restaurant. But it’s good for the health and good for the health of the astronauts. For me, it’s great.

Question:   Hi. My name is Katrina Lane (ph), I’m in Grade 6. And my question is what does the Space Station smell like?

Chris Hadfield:  What does it smell like? It doesn’t really have a strong distinctive smell. It’s not a bad smell at all. It maybe smells like being in an airplane. If you go onto Air Canada or something and you walk onto the airplane, it’s maybe got a slightly distinctive smell, but it’s pretty clean. And we clean our – every Saturday, I clean this whole laboratory. We’re inside the Japanese laboratory. I go through and I wipe down every handrail with disinfectant wipes, with wet wipes, and I vacuum all of the filters. So we really work hard to keep it clean. And so it really doesn’t have any bad – it’s like being in a big building or maybe a nice, clean hospital building or something. We work hard to keep it smelling good and healthy. It’s good for our health and doesn’t let any bacteria grown, and it’s better if it doesn’t have a smell that you don’t like.

Question:   Hi. My name is David Greenwood, and I was – and I’m in Grade 6. And I was wondering about how much space junk is there in the Earth’s atmosphere that you can see from the Space Station?

Chris Hadfield:  Space is full of, you know, junk or debris. The Earth gets hit by a hundred tonnes a day of space debris. A hundred tonnes a day hits our Earth. Every time you see a shooting star or, you know, a meteorite or something, those are bits of debris coming from the universe — a hundred tonnes a day. Some of it is human made — only a little bit, but there is some. And from the Space Station, though, everything’s going really, really fast. We are going five miles a second, eight kilometres a second. So all the debris is going faster than a bullet. So you can’t see it, normally. The only time I’ve ever seen space debris is when it burned up in the atmosphere underneath me, and I watched a meteorite burn up in the atmosphere. And that was kind of a spooky feeling because that meteorite could have hit us and not just been caught by the Earth’s gravity into the atmosphere. But even though we know there’s some around, space is big, and we get peppered by tiny bits all the time, but the Space Station’s a good ship, big strong ship, and so far, so good.

Question:   Hello. I’m Sam. I am in Grade 6, and I was wondering if you play any games in space that you can’t play with gravity or games that become more difficult or fun without – in zero G.

Chris Hadfield:  Yeah, this is a great place for games. You would love it here. Imagine playing, you know, hide-and-go-seek up here, where you could float into any cupboard. You could hide up in the ceiling or in any sort of corner. So it’s a great place for that, but we don’t play hide-and-go-seek very often. We’re playing a game of Scrabble right now, but Scrabble’s pretty hard without gravity because your pieces float all over, so we have a Scrabble game where the pieces sort of click into place, and our board is up on the ceiling.

You could play darts here, but you wouldn’t want pointy darts because we’re inside a spaceship. But you know, if your dart just had a big lump on the end with Velcro and you threw it nice and slowly, maybe with big feathers on the end, then you could play darts. But when you throw darts on Earth, gravity pulls them, so they curve as you throw them. Here, they would go straight. You could throw your dart, and it would go absolutely straight all the way to the target because there wouldn’t be a curve of gravity.

So I think, you know, this would be a fun place to figure out how to play a bunch of games. And we play a little in our spare time, but mostly we’re here to work and so we don’t – we don’t experiment like you would if you just actually lived here as a regular person.

Question:   Hi. My name is Lincoln (ph). I’m in Grade 6. I just want to know who or what inspired you to be an astronaut.

Chris Hadfield:  Well, you’re in Grade 6, so you’re probably about 10 or 11, maybe 12 years old, probably 10 or 11. And you know, you’ve probably heard of some people that have done really interesting things in their life, someone who’s done something that you think, wow, that’s cool or you’ve seen someone do something and you think, oh, that’s not good. Well, you’re going to grow up to be one of those people. You’re going to grow up to be somebody, and you’re going to do something when you get to be an adult.

And when I was your age, I looked at what some of the people were doing, and I watched the very first people walk on the Moon. The very first two human beings walked on the Moon when I was 10 years old, almost 10, the summer I turned 10. But that’s what inspired me. I just thought I’m going to grow up to be something, why don’t I grow up to be that? That looks like an interesting thing to do. And I knew it probably was impossible, but I thought if I don’t try, it’s definitely going to be impossible. And even if I don’t get to fly in space, all those things of learning to fly and build spaceships and how to make machinery and how to test things and all about navigation, about geology and geography, it’s all interesting. And so I was inspired to become an astronaut by two of the very first explorers, the first two people to walk on the Moon.

Moderator:   Chris, this was our last question, but maybe His Excellency wants to add a few words.

His Excellency the Rt. Hon. David Johnston: Well, Chris, thank you so much. Thanks for those wonderful explanations to the great questions from the students here. Keep the amazing photos coming from space and you’re a wonderful ambassador for Canada and for the whole world. Be sure that Eddy stays on best behaviour and keeps his notes because when you and he come back, we’re looking for some tremendous stories. Thanks, Chris. (Inaudible).

Moderator:   Thanks, Chris. Thanks, His Excellency. Thank you so much. Thanks.

Chris Hadfield:  Thanks, everyone. Thank you very much, Your Excellency. It’s a privilege to talk to you and a delight to talk to young Canadians in Ottawa today. Thank you for having me there. And I’ve got to get back to work, but it’s a great museum. There’s a lot of Canadian history there. Enjoy your time and nice to see you all. I will take care of Eddy for sure. Bye now.


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