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LIVE – David Saint-Jacques to talk to young Quebecers during WE Day Montreal


Uploaded on February 11, 2019


LIVE – David Saint-Jacques to talk to young Quebecers during WE Day Montreal

2019-02-11 - During WE Day Montreal, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut David Saint-Jacques will share his perspective of Earth from space, live from the International Space Station. He will also talk about work he is doing to improve our quality of life on Earth through science experiments that he is conducting in orbit. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)


Tyrone Edwards: (inaudible) -- one day, so you will get to go up there and explore the International Space Station, the Moon, maybe even Mars?

Choe Wilde: There is so much to learn and so many unanswered questions about what is out there.

Now, we may not be able to answer all of them right now but I think I know someone who can help us out.

Tyrone Edwards: David Saint-Jacques is an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency. He was raised right near here, in Saint-Lambert.

Choe Wilde: Now, David has always been passionate about travel and in 2008, when he heard the Canadian Space Agency was recruiting astronauts he decided to take that passion beyond our planet and was recruited a year later.

Tyrone Edwards: after years of work and training he was assigned his first space mission in 2016 and on December 3rd of last year he launched to the International Space Station.

Choe Wilde: While he is up there he will be conducting scientific experiments, robotic tasks and testing new technologies, but today, he is taking a quick break from his space life to talk to us. Montreal, this is a WE Day first. Get excited!

--- (General applause and cheer)

Tyrone Edwards: Now, connecting with the International Space Station can be tricky, so while we wait we're going to share some fun facts.

Choe Wilde: I don't know, Tyrone(ph). I think our connection is pretty great.

Tyrone Edwards: Oh; we did it! We did it!

Choe Wilde: I think we've got him right here?

--- (general applause and cheer)

Tyrone Edwards: David, can you hear us? Yes!

Choe Wilde: Okay. I think he's got us! (laughter)

David Saint-Jacques: I hear you loud and clear. Can you hear me? 

Choe Wilde: Wow! I can -- Montreal, can you believe this? (cut in the audio) -- David. So, we want to thank you so much for being with us here today -- 

David Saint-Jacques: Can you hear me? 

Chloe Wilde: -- and we have got some amazing students. We are talking to Space. There might be some delays, everybody. We're going to get there.  

So, we have got some questions from students, and first we have got Rihanna(ph), from John F. Kennedy Elementary. Where are you?  

--- (cheer) 

Chloe Wilde: There she is!  

Tyrone Edwards: Rihanna, stand up and waive.

Chloe Wilde: She wants to know: What experiments are you currently doing on the ISS? 

David Saint-Jacques: Currently, on board the ISS, there's hundreds of experiments that we do, mostly to help us understand how to better live in space and how to better live in the environment of space, so that one day we can go even further, go back to the Moon and one day to Mars. 

But it's not just for that. All of the experiments we do here, in space, they can help us back on Earth as well, because everything that happens to astronauts in orbit resembles the real diseases on Earth. For example, our bones get weaker, our muscles get weaker. Our immune system gets weaker. Even our cardiovascular system gets affected. And everything that affects us astronauts happens very quickly on young and healthy individuals, so it is a perfect place for medical research. 

So, every time scientists find a way to help us stay healthy, at the same time they find a way to help people on the ground stay healthy.  

Chloe Wilde: (inaudible) -- this is WE Montreal. How do you hear me? (laughter)  

David Saint-Jacques: I hear you loud and clear. How do you hear me?  

--- (loud cheer)

Tyrone Edwards: We hear you loud and clear. 

Chloe Wilde: This is pretty cool.  

Tyrone Edwards: Okay. All right. Okay. All right.  

Next, we have Angel(ph), from John Caldwell School. Angel, are you here? Stand up and waive, let us see you.  

Angel, there you go.  

Chloe Wilde: I see you.  

Tyrone Edwards: Now, David, she wants to know: What were you most amazed by? 

David Saint-Jacques: Ah! You know what was most amazing, when I flew in the Soyuz rocket, is the first time that I looked out the window and I saw the thin blue line of the atmosphere of our planet protecting us from the deadly vacuum of space. It was just an amazing sight.  

And you know, as all astronauts, I spent a lot of energy and a lot of time training to go to space, but the first thing I want to do when I come here is look back and look at our beautiful planet, because it is amazingly gracious, and it brings home very clearly the fact that when you see our beautiful planet floating in the black of space there is no tube(ph) with no -- new air. There's no tube with new water. All we have is there on Earth, and it's an amazing recycling loop. Mother Earth is an incredible recycling machine and we have to take good care of Mother Earth. 

--- (general applause and cheer) 

Chloe Wilde: Émilie, from Saint-John Fisher Senior asks: If you could describe space in one word what would it be? 

David Saint-Jacques: It would be the new perspective that it gave me. When you see the world from up here you don't see borders, you see one beautiful planet, with one humanity living on it.  

And of course, it is important, what country you are from, your culture. It is very important. It defines the way we live, but it is not as important as the fact that we are all human beings together, and for us astronauts in space, it is a very big source of pride that we can demonstrate every day, that it doesn’t matter which country you're coming from, we can work together.  

You know, the Station was built by nations from around the world, nations like the United-States, Canada, Russia, Germany, Japan, France, and a bunch more. Nations -- some of whom(ph), not so long ago - if you ask your grandparents, maybe they will remember - some of these countries use to be at war with each other. Now, we work together towards an incredible goal. To me, that's a great source of hope for children and for the next generations. It's proof that when we decide to work together we can achieve incredible things, and that is the way forward for humanity. 

--- (general applause and cheer) 

Tyrone Edwards: One love. All right. Our next question is from Carolina, from Rosemount High.  

--- (cheer) 

Tyrone Edwards: Were are you, Carolina? Waive. 

Chloe Wilde: Hello! 

Tyrone Edwards: She wants to know: What advice could you provide young Canadians in the pursuit of their dreams? 

David Saint-Jacques: Very important question. So, dreams are your most important treasure. And your dream lives in your head and sometimes dreams have a very, very small voice, but you've got to listen to your dream.  

I would say: Don't be afraid of your dream, even if it's big and crazy. If it's big and crazy it means it's a good dream, because what is important is not to reach your dream, what is important is that your dream gives you a direction in which to go every day. And then it can change. Things happen. You make decisions that are different. You change direction. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, what matters is that every decision was a decision that made you happy, and it was the good decision at that point. And if every decision is good then the end result is good.  

So, your dream is not a destination. Your dream is a direction, like a star that guides you. That's very wise advice that was given to me when I was a kid, by an astronaut, by Dr. Steve MacLean. He told me: Just make sure that every time you make a decision it is a decision that increases your happiness, and that way you cannot go wrong. You can always be happy, in the end.  

--- (general applause and cheer) 

Chloe Wilde: Some very good life advice. Thank you so much. I think we have got some time left for questions from students here today. We have got a couple from Madison(ph), from Saint-Luc's Extreme group. Madison, where are you? 

--- (cheer) 

Chloe Wilde: There she is. The first question is: What is something you wish someone would have told you before you went to the International Space Station?  

David Saint-Jacques: You know -- wow! So, there are so many things that you cannot prepare for, coming here, you know? I knew it would be fun to fly but I had no idea it would be this fun; that you could just turn around like this and fly. And actually, what I am surprised at is that now I find it normal. Isn't that amazing, how incredibly adaptive we are? Even flying like this for me, now, is normal, after two months. My body has adapted. So, that's an incredible thing, how much we can adapt.  

So, even if you are afraid of something, it doesn’t matter. You can adapt to any situation.  

Tyrone Edwards: Wow! 

--- (general applause and cheer) 

Chloe Wilde: I want to do that one day. (laughter)  

Tyrone Edwards: I want to fly. Also from Madison: Do you think kids will ever be able to go to space, David? 

David Saint-Jacques: Well, you know, imagine this situation; imagine 100 years ago, when only very rich adults could take the plane, and there was no children taking a plane. If you asked: Would children one day be able to take a plane? Maybe it looked very difficult to believe. I think it's the same, with new technology, with the advancement of society, I think one day we will fly everybody to space. I hope. That's my hope.  

But, anyway, children grow up and they become adults, and then, as an adult, for sure you can go.  

Chloe Wilde: We will all grow up. It is definitely correct. 

All right. Next up, Carolina from Rosemount High School. She asks: What are you most excited about during your voyage?  

David Saint-Jacques: What I am most excited about -- there are a couple of things, of course; all the great research we do, here, is very exciting. Me, I was a doctor before being an astronaut, so I am very excited about all of that medical research that we do here; ways we can help people on Earth, who are sick. But also, I love to travel and I love to meet people from different cultures, and it is amazing for me to be working in international collaboration like this. You see all of those flags behind me, all of these countries that are working together. I find this really, really, really amazing, the demonstration that we can work together. It is not just a (inaudible), it is reality. Humans work together on a great, amazing project here, in space.  

--- (general applause and cheer) 

Tyrone Edwards: Okay, David, we have two questions from Vaughn(ph), from Saint-John Fisher Senior. First, he asks: What was the most important thing you have learned in becoming an astronaut?


David Saint-Jacques: That's a very important question. Well, one thing I learned is about fear. I learned that it's okay to have fear. To be brave, as said Nelson Mandela, is not to have no fear. To be brave is to be afraid but to go anyway. And your fear is like an alarm system. It tells you: Oh; this is something dangerous. This is something tricky. You've got to pay attention. Fear just means you've got to pay attention and be careful. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. 

So, that's something I learned, to use the fear as a trigger for extra awareness, not as a sign to say: No, no.  

--- (general applause and cheer) 

Chloe Wilde: His next question is: Who or what experiences convinced you or inspired you to become an astronaut and go off into space? 

David Saint-Jacques: I remember when I was a young child, maybe five or six or seven, I don't know, seeing these images of the Earth seen from space, and I thought it was incredible, because I could recognize this was the Earth, but obviously, the person who took the photo was not on Earth. How could that be? And my dad explained to me that the photographer was on the Moon.  

And to me that was incredible. It was like a revelation. It meant that through studying and working hard and training we can accomplish amazing things, and that the most fun thing to do in life is to explore and to understand more and more about the world around you.  

--- (general applause and cheer) 

Tyrone Edwards: Okay, David. Next up is a bit of a hard-hitting question from Kathy(ph), from John Caldwell School. She asks: Can you take me to the Moon, David?  

David Saint-Jacques: (Singing): Fly me to the Moon -- I wish I could take everybody up with me, here, and then beyond, to the Moon, and then to Mars. I think it would be amazing if everybody could have this experience. So -- I can't, so I'm trying to share as much of the emotion with you.  

--- (general applause and cheer) 

Chloe Wilde: Certainly. Okay; we've got another question from Saint-John Fisher Senior. This one is from Émilie. She wants to know: How do you feel emotionally and physically, while in space? 

David Saint-Jacques: So, it takes some adaptation. Some people adapt more quickly than others; for me, it took me a couple of weeks before physically I felt okay. Initially I was always a little bit nauseous, a bit like being -- you know, airsick. I was very disoriented. I felt very congested, because all the blood was rushing to my head without gravity to pull it down towards my feet. And I was often lost, I find. Like, if I would -- here, I know where I am, and if I would go sideways, like this, I would be disoriented and not know which way is up or down, and like this was even worse. But, now, my body is very well adapted. I feel as if I was born here, almost. And mentally, well, same thing, disorientation. Sometimes I miss the people I love on Earth, but thankfully we have ways to talk to each other or even do some video conferencing.  

So, psychologically this is actually a nice experience, because we are a very small group of people living here. We are very close-knit. We are like brothers and sisters on an adventure.  

Tyrone Edwards: All right. Caitie(ph), from John Caldwell School asks: What is the best thing about being an astronaut?  

David Saint-Jacques: The best thing about being an astronaut I think is how varied the job is. One day you're flying a rocket - that's amazing. One day you're looking at the planet from space - that's also amazing. But one day you have to repair the toilet; another day you have to repair a computer. Another day you make an experiment - maybe you will make a discovery - another day you're just moving things around. You are -- or you're cleaning. Or -- you have to do everything, up here. You really become a bit of a jack of all trades, as we say. You even have to do some communications, like I do now, and teach to people the beauty of my experience.  

So, I really like the variety of the experience. 

--- (general applause and cheer) 

Chloe Wilde: All right. Next we have got Violet(ph), from Pleasant Corners Public School. She wants to know: What does the launch feel like? And what about no gravity? 

David Saint-Jacques: So, the launch is an amazing ride. So, imagine you are in your rocket. This is what your seat looks like. You are like on your back, in a little ball, like this. And then -- (rocket sound) -- the rocket ignites, and it is as if two giant hands were pushing you up in the air (whooshing sound) and pushing you -- you are squished on your seat by the acceleration and the vibration (whooshing sound) -- and then after about only 10 minutes the rocket stops and you're in orbit. You're not on Earth anymore. You are above the atmosphere, in the black darkness of the vacuum of space. And it is as if suddenly you start floating and you are like in another world -- you have just entered another world.  

And zero gravity? Well -- how to describe it? Maybe -- if you have ever jumped off the highest diving board at the swimming pool, during those one or two seconds when you're falling, that's what you feel like when you're in zero G. You feel everything. Inside, you're kind of going up -- initially, it is a bit strange but after a while, of course, you get used to it.  

Chloe Wilde: (laughter) -- 

--- (general applause and cheer) 

Tyrone Edwards: All right. I think we have time for one more question. We have got another one from Pleasant Corners Public School. This one is from Emma. She asks: How do you communicate with Earth from space? 

David Saint-Jacques: So, right now we're -- I am talking to you via some satellites. I'm talking through a phone, and my microphone is going through some satellites. Satellites going through a relay station in the United-States, and then from there via the normal telephone network, up to you. But I can also -- we can also make video phone calls, like we're doing now.  

So, it's all going through satellites, just like when you call anybody else on the Earth with a cell phone. In a way, it's easier for the Space Station, because it goes one way(ph), from space to Earth and Earth to space. It doesn’t have to bounce back to space.  

Chloe Wilde: Well, I wish we had more time but that's all the questions we have today. David, thank you so much for joining us, all the way from space.  

Tyrone Edwards: WE Day! WE Day! Can we make some noise for astronaut David Saint-Jacques? 

--- (general applause and cheer) 

Tyrone Edwards: Thanks again, David. Safe trip (cut in audio) --  

Chloe Wilde: (laughter) -- Oh; I think we -- I think we lost him. That was an incredible experience. 

Tyrone Edwards: Good bye.


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