Former International Space Station commander Chris Hadfield answers questions from KLO Middle School students.
Seven hundred students erupted when Canada's most famous spaceman entered the gymnasium behind a colour guard of air cadets who attend the school.
Without a word, the former commander of the International Space Station took off his jacket and tie, opened his guitar case and launched into I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing?) - the song he recorded with the Barenaked Ladies - as the school choir accompanied him.
Now 54, the retired colonel mesmerized a million followers with his daily tweets of spectacular views of Earth and shot videos about life aboard the station during his five-month stint less than a year ago.
His easy manner and plain language continue to resonate, captivating his adolescent audience with anecdotes about brushing his teeth without gravity and walking in space.
Hadfield first gave a short, inspirational introduction before opening up the floor to questions.
He decided to become an astronaut at age nine, he said, and encouraged the youngsters to start thinking of a career and how to turn into that person.
"Because if you don't choose, the world will just kick you into it
regardless of who it is you become. You choose. You have control of your own life. You can make some big decisions, but it's the little decisions you make every day that turn you into (who you become)," he said.
After a 40-minute question-and-answer session, Hadfield left the building for his next engagement - a sold-out presentation at Kelowna Community Theatre, which was simulcast at a venue at UBC Okanagan.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield answered questions from students at KLO Middle School on Monday. Here are some excerpts:
Q: What's the most beautiful thing you saw in space?
A: The Bahamas off Florida because the coral reefs are shallow and they're huge â€¦ But the deep water comes all the way in by the Bahamas â€¦ All around it is the shallows of the Bahamas and it's beautiful, like every blue that
The most beautiful thing was probably being outside on a spacewalk. You're in between the whole world on one side, every colour, and the universe on the other side. All the endless blackness of the universe â€¦ It's not just beautiful in your eyes. It's beautiful in your whole existence. If you get a chance, go out on a spacewalk.
Q: What's the coolest science
experience in space or the one that surprised you the most?
A: â€¦ We only know what five per cent of the universe is and it's us, dirts, rocks, minerals; 95 per cent of the universe we don't know what it's made of. And we have this huge experiment on the top of the space station that's collecting that stuff to try to figure out what dark matter and dark energy are.
The coolest one maybe is a Canadian experiment. When you go to the hospital, they take your blood, and they do an analysis of your blood . . . We invented
(a machine) the size of a little
microwave. You put in your blood sample and you spin it and turn it. It â€¦ can do a blood analysis in 10 minutes in something the size of a toaster. So â€¦ once they get this thing finished they'll be able to do blood work close to home in a little clinic.
Q: Where was your favourite place in the space station?
A: I recorded all the music on my iPad, using Garage Band. You can lay down multiple tracks, and I did all that in my little sleep
station. It's pretty small â€¦ My favourite place is the big window on the bottom of the space station. It faces the world â€¦ We go eight kilometres a second to stay in
orbit. From here to Vancouver in 40 seconds. Across Canada in
under 10 minutes â€¦ You see the whole world float by. You go around the world 16 times a day. I think my favourite place was by the great big window with my nose pressed up against the glass.
Q: What is your favourite food in space and on earth?
A: Tim Horton's maple-dip doughnuts . . . You sure don't want to eat a doughnut from six months ago. And all our space station food has to keep for six months or a year . . . We don't have a fridge. We don't have a
microwave, so it's all mediocre food. It's like camping food . . . But in space you're weightless, so space doesn't . . . push any of the fluids of your body down so your sinuses never drain.
Your sinuses get full and stay full and that limits how you can taste your food in space. It's like having a cold. So we like spicy food. And the spiciest food up there is like horseradish sauce. So I like shrimp cocktail â€¦ even though it's re-hydrated, it has a nice crunch . . .
Q: Is it hard to do things without gravity?
A: The hard things are easy and the easy things are hard . . . Let's say I wanted to move this piano around. In space, I would just touch it with my fingertip and float it across to you . . . If you put on your shoes to use the treadmill, then when you have both hands working on one foot, there's nothing to hold you still anymore. So you're floating all around, banging off the walls while you're trying to get your shoe done up â€¦ By the time you get your shoes done up, you're
upside-down in a different module of the space station.
Brushing your teeth in space â€¦ We don't have sinks or running water. You take a little bag of
water and you squirt a little water in the air so there's water floating there. You grab your toothbrush, you grab the water out of the air, and you put a little toothpaste on it â€¦ and you brush your teeth â€¦ Now I have a dirty toothbrush and a mouthful of toothpaste foam . . . So what do you do? Just swallow the toothpaste. If it was poisonous, they wouldn't let you brush your teeth with it.
Q: How do you sleep in space?
A: â€¦ I had a sleeping bag, and I tied it to the wall with a couple of shoestrings. My sleeping bag is floating there â€¦ I'd float up into it, put my feet inside it â€¦ and now I'm inside the sleeping bag floating next to the wall. I'd shut off the light and relax every muscle. Your arms float up and your knees float up. Your head tips
forward â€¦ You sleep great. You don't have to roll over; you don't need a pillow; there's nobody
jiggling the bed. It's quiet
â€¦ Sometimes you hear a little meteorite that hits the space station, like a ricochet â€¦ you (think) hey that one didn't kill me, so that's good.
Q: Were you ever scared?
A: Normally you're scared when you don't know what's about to happen and you don't know what you're supposed to do â€¦ We practise things thousands of times. So everything is comfortable and familiar â€¦ I spent 21 years as an astronaut where I wouldn't be in a position to be scared. So I wasn't scared. Not
because I'm brave. Just because I spent long enough getting ready.
Q: How was it coming home?
A: â€¦ We turn the space ship around backwards and we fire the engines for four minutes, the last bit of our fuel. The orbit is no longer a circle - it's a little bent so it starts to touch into the atmosphere â€¦ like skipping a rock across the water. As soon as it touches the water, it starts to slow down.
All of a sudden you slow down a whole bunch and you're squished into the floor of your space ship, like a great big fat person is laying on you, slapping you the whole time â€¦ It can be about eight times your weight. You can't pick your arm up. That lasts a few minutes until you've slowed down. And then a little parachute comes out, and the whole space ship (shakes) like you're dice in a cup.
It gets stable and a big parachute comes out, and you're falling down vertically. Now it's sort of gentle â€¦ You're still coming down pretty fast. Just before you hit the ground, little rockets fire on the bottom of your space ship. You still crash pretty hard.
We went end over end several times and then rolled to a stop. After being beautifully weightless and having super powers for half a year, it was awful coming down. I was so beat up and crushed and squished â€¦ I wanted to throw up. I felt terrible. But overall, the
experience was better than I dreamed it would be when I was nine years old.