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Chris Hadfield addresses Canadian media from space

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Uploaded on January 10, 2013

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Chris Hadfield addresses Canadian media from space

2013-01-10 - Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield took part in his first Canadian press conference from the International Space Station on January 10, 2013. He answered questions from media representatives gathered at the CSA headquarters in Longueuil, Quebec.

(Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)

TranscriptMaxime Landry: Hello Chris. Maxime Landry, TVA Nouvelles Montréal. You seem to be making the most of your time on the Space Station. You have an avid following on Twitter. Did you really think you’d become Astronaut 2.0, or is this something that took you totally by surprise?

Chris Hadfield: It’s an interesting idea. I’m just a crew member here. We’re so busy – first with the experiments, with operating the Station itself – but at the same time, we have more advanced technologies now to tell people about what we’re doing here in terms of space exploration. There’s not just television, not just email – it’s now possible to use tools like Twitter to immediately give people a better understanding of exactly what we’re doing here in space.

For the crew and me, it’s perfect because it’s interesting for us, and as I’ve seen, it’s interesting for everyone in Canada and around the world. And so, it’s just us, but with technology, it’s amazing what is possible.

Peter Ray: Hi Chris, Peter Ray from the Canadian Press. Everybody’s been following you on Twitter, and I think this morning, you were approaching 160,000 followers. I know that you’re about 10 times more than Tom Marshburn. Let’s, first of all, let’s talk about the Twitter and secondly, let’s talk about all those photos. First of all, 160,000 followers, and that’s only I think within 21 days. You started at 20,000, now you’re up to 160,000.

Chris Hadfield: Well with any new technology, Peter, it takes a while for people to get used to it and to start using it. Look at, look at anything, look at telephones a little over 100 years ago or, or air bags in cars, even though the technology exists, more and more people become aware of how useful it can be. And what we’re doing on Space Station is fundamentally fascinating and I think the evidence shows through a measure like Twitter where the, of course the exploration we’re doing, the experiments we’re doing but the view that it gives us of the world and the, I think the way that it encapsulates, encapsulates where we are in history, as well of people permanently leaving Earth with these new technologies of communications, we can directly give people the human side of that.

And the fact that now, gosh, over 150,000 people are directly following what we’re doing here every day, I think it’s just a direct measure of how important and useful this is in the human experience.

Peter Ray: Just one follow-up. Talking about those photos, everybody is talking about the images you’re sending back. Just talk a little bit about those in English and then in French, and, and tell me is there any favourite or was there any among those photos that you’ve taken that really strikes you as, as, as, you know, more significant than others?

Chris Hadfield: Since my first flight to the Russian space station Mir back 17 years ago, I’ve always maintained that the favourite pastime of astronauts is looking at the world out the window. It is, it is so fundamentally beautiful and mesmerizing, and I’ve been doing my best with words to try and describe it ever since I first saw it from onboard space shuttle Atlantis just after we launched. And now, I can directly, as I see beautiful things, send those pictures to the ground. And you can see the reaction; it has captured the eyes and therefore the minds and imaginations of so many people. It’s such a wonderful place to better understand our planet.

And for me, I love the beautiful pictures of the world, but the one that was the most significant for me was looking at the noctilucent clouds. These are clouds that you can barely see from the surface of the Earth. They’re the highest clouds that exist, tiny ice particles way up in the mesosphere, and yet, from orbit, as the sun rises, the light bounces off of those clouds directly into our eyes and we can see a part of the Earth’s atmosphere that’s basically invisible to people on the surface. To me, that’s both beautiful because of the colours and textures and the ripples of it, but it’s also really significant. It’s a way to understand the changes in our atmosphere and a way to understand exactly how our atmosphere inter, interacts with, with the universe beyond.

So the, the ability to take pictures up here, it fulfils all sorts of different purposes and needs, and we are so lucky to be able to be the ones holding the cameras.

And in French, it’s incredible to have the opportunity to take pictures like that. It’s really wonderful. Since my first flight to the Russian space station Mir 17 years ago, I’ve said that the favourite pastime of astronauts is to look at the Earth. It’s fascinating. And on this flight, we have technology like Twitter to immediately provide these images to everyone on Earth. And for me, maybe my favourite thing is the highest clouds, the noctilucent clouds that are almost impossible to see from Earth, but here, on the Station, it’s possible to see them.

It’s so beautiful with the colours and textures, but it’s also really interesting for the scientists because it’s a rare opportunity and could be an indication of changes in our atmosphere. So, we are uniquely placed to witness the changes, and to witness them on behalf of everyone on Earth.

Elizabeth Howell: Hello, Elizabeth Howell from space.com. Today, as you know, is a special Canadian day, sort of on Station and also at NASA, and I just was wondering what sort of aspects of Canadiana are you trying to bring to the world as you’re working up there? Thank you.

Chris Hadfield: Hello Elizabeth. Today on board the Space Station, we operated Canadarm2 and if you look at the direct link, it’s amazing. We have the Canadian Space Agency in Saint-Hubert, just outside Montreal, with controllers there who are monitoring the health of the Canadarm. They have people working down in Houston that are watching it, Canadians and, and people from other countries. And then, sitting in mission control today was astronaut Jeremy Hansen this morning and astronaut David Saint-Jacques this afternoon, and they’re talking directly to me, a Canadian, on board the Space Station as I have my hands and I’m operating Canadarm2, and that Canadarm built this Space Station.

We’re not the biggest partner by any means in the Space Station project, but we are a trusted and respected and capable partner. And what Canada has done is world class. And to be able to link it right through from the, the mission control backroom at the Canadian Space Agency in Saint-Hubert right through to my hands on the controls and Canadarm moving around up here on the Space Station, to me it’s a real demonstration of international partnership, but also a real demonstration of Canada’s capabilities and some of the places we can go in the future.

Elizabeth Howell: Just a quick follow-up. Do you have any parts of Canadian culture that you’re also trying to portray as well as robotics?

Chris Hadfield: I think everybody’s proud of where they’re from. On board, we have people from Belorussia, from Russia, historically from the Ukraine. Tom and Kevin from the United States and myself from Canada. When we get together, we talk about family, we talk about where we’re from, we talk about things that we grew up with. When we got together for Christmas and it was both the, the 25th of December Christmas and the Russian Orthodox Christmas, we talked about each of us, about what our traditions were and for New Year’s as well, how we celebrated it with our families and our friends.

And so I here represent Canada and so I talk about how I grew up and what values are important in Canada. And between Canada and Russia and the US, we cover a lot of the world’s dirt, a lot of the world’s territory. And so there’s lots of opportunity while you’re looking out the window together to, to share the experience. And I’ve had several moments quietly floating in the cupola with one or the other crew members as the two of us in sort of a hushed, awe-filled conversation talk about what we’re seeing, what it means to us, what we feel sort of as, as representatives of everyone that, that we came from on Earth. And we share that experience internationally up here. The Space Station is a wonderful crucible for that.

Allan Woods: Hi, it’s Allan Woods from the Toronto Star newspaper. You’re talking about the impression that some of these images leave with you. One of the images that I was struck by was your picture of Syria, over Syria and you said it looks so peaceful from up here, but the reality on the ground is much different. How does what you’re seeing change your impression of the world when you come back down to Earth?

Chris Hadfield: The perspective that we are subject to, that we are privileged enough to see directly with our eyes is one that I think would benefit everyone. To go around the world in just slightly over 90 minutes, to see the whole world in 90 minutes and then by the time you’ve come around the world, with the world turning underneath you, by the time you’ve come around the world, it’s turned and you come over a new part. So the world just unrolls itself for you and you see it, absolutely discretely as one place.

And so when we do look down on a place that is currently in great turmoil or strife, it’s hard to reconcile the inherent patience and beauty of the world with the terrible things that we can do to each other as people and, and can do to the Earth itself locally. And if people, I think, could see the perspective more clearly, and that’s part of the reason that we work so hard to communicate what we’re doing up here as an international team, is to try and just give people a little glimpse of that global perspective, that understanding of the fact that we’re all in this together and that this is a spaceship but so is the world.

And yes, there are important territorial issues, there are important personal issues, but at the same time, with increased communication, with increased understanding comes a more global perspective, and it’s one that we feel incredibly honoured to see directly and one that we do our best to try and pass on to everybody. And 160,000 people are looking through my eyes every day and hopefully some of them internalize some of it also.

Pascal Robidas: Hello Mr. Hadfield. Pascal Robidas, TV journalist from Radio-Canada. You operated the Canadian arm this morning. Can you tell us about the sort of research you’ve participated in on the International Space Station?

Chris Hadfield: Yes, the Space Station is a laboratory for sure. It’s not just one laboratory – there’s an American laboratory, a European laboratory, a Japanese laboratory, and a Russian laboratory. And it was Canadarm2, our famous manipulator, that built it all – put it all together. So it’s a very international setting. There are so many different experiments. Yesterday evening, there was a really interesting Japanese experiment on the physics of fluids.

It’s an experiment that would be impossible to do on Earth. It’s necessary to have an absolutely still, weightless environment, with no force of gravity whatsoever. With that, it’s possible to build a liquid bridge to better learn exactly how fluid works. It’s a way to learn more about fundamental principles. I did some experiments on colloids this morning. It’s for hydraulic systems. The experiment can be done here, but it would be impossible on Earth.

Right after the press conference, I’m going to do something here at a very high temperature to find out how metals meld together in weightlessness, without the effect of gravity. There are also medical experiments – Canadian experiments to learn about the system to regulate pressure in the body and how our balance works. There are about 100 different experiments conducted on an ongoing basis here on the Space Station. So things are really busy up here. The astronauts have plenty of work to do.

Pascal Robidas: And maybe one last question. You are a music lover. When you look at planet Earth, what song comes to mind?

Chris Hadfield: Yes, I’m an astronaut, but I’ve also been a musician for years. We have a Canadian guitar here on the Station, a Larrivée, and I have the chance to play it almost every evening after work. At Christmastime, it was perfect for celebrating, for singing together. My brother and I wrote a Christmas song, and I had the chance to record it; I think a lot of people have already seen it and listened to it on YouTube. But for me, it’s – it’s the folk songs, the Canadian songs that I like most.

And I’m not just a singer; I write songs from time to time. At the moment, I’m writing a few songs about life on Earth, but I’m also writing a bit about life here in zero gravity. And after five months, maybe I’ll have enough for an album. It’s just something I do after work, but for me it’s something that’s necessary for humanity – a human thing, an interesting thing. And I’m lucky that we have a guitar here with us.

Joanne Backus: Hi, this is Joanne Backus (ph) from CBC Television here in Montreal. I thought long and hard about what to ask you, there’s so much to ask, hello. What, I guess what still surprises you after all this time? I mean, of course there’s the robotics, there’s everything that’s going on up there, but I mean you’re floating and you’re playing around and you’re, I mean, what is still surprising to you about being up there after all these years?

Chris Hadfield: Well you know, this is my third space flight, but yesterday, I equalled my entire time that I had previously in space. After 20 years of being an astronaut, I’d only been in space for 20 days. But now with the Soyuz flight back on the 19th and with the time on Station, I’m now up over twice that. So I’ve, even though my experience is growing, there are still lots of surprises.

Something I noticed this morning, on Earth when I get up first thing in the morning, I find sometimes I’m a little bit clumsy as my body’s waking up. I discovered you can be clumsy in weightlessness and when I come out of my sleeping berth and come floating right down here to go into what is basically our galley and our bathroom, I bump into things. Even though I’m floating weightless, you can still have the morning clumsies up here. And that surprised me.

The other thing that surprises me is the difference between visiting space, which is what happened the last two times, and living in space, which is what’s happening now. The, the incredible privilege of truly living this experience and not having to rush everything, of not making everything one time, but actually being able to have a measured, thoughtful existence, to really absorb what it’s like – that, that’s different this time. And the richness of that, the impact on me personally and hopefully on my ability to capture it and describe it to people for the rest of my life is much, much deeper, and I really count myself lucky to have that.

Joanne Backus: Just, and my bosses would kill me if I didn’t ask you this, I’m going to try to get you to say something about the Habs and the Leafs playing, if you can. Maybe a little Go Habs Go, I don’t know. I had to try.

Chris Hadfield: I’m really pleased that the NHL is starting to play again. I love hockey, I love watching hockey. I think it’s a great tradition and it’s a great sport. And I’m really looking forward to watching. They, they pipe the games up to me here, and I can watch them while I’m working out. This is a piece of workout equipment right next to me, and it’s a great thing to be able to put on and watch. And the first team I fell in love with and therefore that I’m loyal to my whole life is, is the Leafs, and, and I’m looking forward to watching the season begin and watching them play.

But in reality, what I really like is people that are taking themselves to the limits of their capability to do something that is just barely possible, and that happens in sport. That’s what I really respect about the Olympics and, and NHL-quality hockey, but it’s what I respect about this place too. It is a huge team on the ground working, taking the things that we can do right to the very limit of human capability and seeing what you can find out there. And, and I really respect that. It’s what I’ve shaped my whole life around and, and the Leafs are still unbeaten. So I hope their season continues so well.

Thank you very much, it was a pleasure. Nice to talk with everyone and absolute best wishes from the crew of the International Space Station.
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