|Born||Chris Austin Hadfield
29 August 1959
Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
|Rank||Commander, CSA & NASA
Colonel, RCAF fighter pilot (retired)
Time in space
|Selection||1992 CSA Group|
Total EVA time
|14 hours 53 minutes and 38 seconds|
|Missions||STS-74, STS-100, Soyuz TMA-07M (Expedition 34/35)|
|Retirement||July 3, 2013|
|Awards||Order of Canada (2014)
Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)
Service Medal (2002)
Golden Jubilee Medal (2002)
Vanier Award (2001)
Order of Ontario (1996)
Nothing focuses your mind quite like flying a jet. That's one reason NASA requires that astronauts fly T-38s: it forces us to concentrate and prioritize in some of the same ways we need to in a rocket ship.
Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It's about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others' success, and then standing back and letting them shine.
So without that Canadian invention we were grounded. And so that was a really important and key part of the mission and Canadians should take real pride in it.
I've raised three kids: my wife and I have three kids. I've observed through direct contact the adults they are now is partially the product of where they came from and what we did. With them growing up, but partially how they were wired at birth.
For the last several years and culminating in six months in orbit next year, I've been training for my third space flight. This one is almost in a category completely different than the previous two, specifically to live in on the space station for six months, to command a space ship and to fly a new rocket ship.
I don't want to be treated like I came from another planet or something or was somehow born with some weird birthright or super power. I don't view myself that way. I am a normal guy, picking up the crap from the dog and scraping the BBQ and having a beer and fixing the shed out back.
I once made myself black out by pulling G too quickly while flying an F-18. Being unconscious in a single-seat airplane is not good. Fortunately, I woke up in time. I learned how to better plug-in my anti-G suit.
I'm really looking forward to it, if you can imagine floating weightless, watching the world pour by through the big bay window of the space station playing a guitar; just a tremendous place to think about where we are in history.
I think there are lots of ways to exercise ambition and accomplish things using leadership without going into elected politics. So, categorically, I have no intention of going into elected politics. None.
When we first get to space, we feel sick. Your body is really confused. You're dizzy. Your lunch is floating around in your belly because you're floating. What you see doesn't match what you feel, and you want to throw up.
Some of the greatest reality television we ever had was the moon landings. When you think about it, that was human emotion and people, unscripted, working with each other – and millions and millions of people around the world, glued to their television sets to share real-time in a brand new, fascinating human experience.
Ever since I was nine years old and I watched Neil and Buzz walk on the moon, I have felt passionately that this is an interesting human adventure. This is one of the things we're doing that is really fundamentally important, as we leave our home planet, but also exciting.
The International Space Station is a phenomenal laboratory, an unparalleled test bed for new invention and discovery. Yet I often thought, while silently gazing out the window at Earth, that the actual legacy of humanity's attempts to step into space will be a better understanding of our current planet and how to take care of it.
Spacewalking trumps everything. Viscerally, it is a phenomenal place to be; to be able to glance right and see the world, glance left and see the universe, and realise for a moment that you're holding on to your known existence with one hand. That's the thing.
While on the space station, I kept up with news a couple of ways – Mission Control sent daily summaries, and I would scan headlines on Google News when we had an Internet connection, which was about half the time.
For whatever reason, I decided: 'I'm 18, I'm a man, I'm going to grow a moustache' – and it was pathetic for years – it was awful.
The Soyuz craft weighs tons, and you're lying on the floor of it on your back. But the Russians do tell you, remember, before you land, stop talking so you don't bite your tongue off.
No aeroplane you've ever gotten into had less than thousands of flights before they took their first passenger. Because vehicles are unsafe at first.
Our role is to develop techniques that allow us to provide emergency life-saving procedures to injured patients in an extreme, remote environment without the presence of a physician.
In the astronaut business – the shuttle is a very complicated vehicle; it's the most complicated flying machine ever built. And in the astronaut business, we have a saying, which is, 'There is no problem so bad that you can't make it worse.'
To be on my very first spacewalk, to be outside, and to have contamination in my suit to the point that I couldn't see in either eye – that, I think, would cause some people to lose control.
There are no wishy-washy astronauts. You don't get up there by being uncaring and blase. And whatever gave you the sense of tenacity and purpose to get that far in life is absolutely reaffirmed and deepened by the experience itself.
To be one of the world's top space robotic arm operators is a necessary skill for an astronaut, but it doesn't have much carry-over.
My father was an airline pilot, so we travelled more spontaneously than a lot of families. On a Thursday, we could decide to go somewhere like Barbados the next day for a long weekend.
I watched the first people walk on the moon, and to me, it was just an obvious thing – I want to somehow turn myself into that. But the real question is, how do you deal with the danger of it and the fear that comes from it? How do you deal with fear versus danger?
In the Soyuz, the little Russian capsule, you can actually hear the banging of the big shield, the big heat shield on the bottom, as it slowly erodes away from the heat and pieces of it fly off like sparks across your window, and it's an interesting thing to ride through, you know.
The communities and countries best at using energy to optimize a microclimate for human life are also the ones whose people have the longest average lifespans. Canada, Sweden, and Iceland – places with inhospitable winter weather – are frontrunners in sustaining human health and life.
Now, as an astronaut, I have to bring a Sharpie with me everywhere – so I have a pen to sign autographs.
I was born in Sarnia, Ontario; a small town, it's where oil was pretty much discovered in North America.
And then finally, I'm the commander, so I am fundamentally responsible for the lives of the other people on board and the health and longevity of the space station. I need to bring six people back happy, healthy and feeling like they've had the best six months of their life.
The best simulator for spacewalking is underwater – it allows full visuals and body movement in 3D. Virtual reality is good, too, and has some advantages, like full Station simulation, not just part. Like all simulators, they have parts that are wrong and misleading: an important thing to remember when preparing for reality.
When you look out the window of a spaceship, you see entire countries, vast swaths of continents. One turn of the head covers what once took thousands of years to traverse at ground level.
One place that I looked at a lot from space and which looks alluring is New Zealand, especially the North Island. It's a big broad valley with a river flowing through it, and you can see the wine-making dryness of the land.
You can get claustrophobia and agoraphobia – a fear of wide, open spaces – simultaneously on a spacewalk.
It's a really big deal to do a spacewalk. It's much riskier than staying indoors. It's complex. It uses up a lot of the precious resources onboard. It uses up oxygen. It uses up carbon dioxide scrubbers.
There's always constantly interesting things to do, and who knows, maybe I will be a good sculptor. I haven't decided what I am going to do next, but I am not going to quit just because I did something interesting.
And now for Return to Flight, I'm chief of robotics working in the astronaut office in Houston, as a Canadian.
You should have a fear of some things. That doesn't mean it incapacitates you from your ability to figure out a way to deal with it.
We have never lost a crew member on the space station, but of course, the Columbia accident. I was – I'd already been an astronaut for a decade when the crew of Columbia was killed. And I went through test pilot school. Rick Husband and I were out at Edwards at test pilot school together. He was the commander of Columbia.
The world, when you look at it, it just can't be random. I mean, it's so different than the vast emptiness that is everything else, and even all the other planets we've seen, at least in our solar system, none of them even remotely resemble the precious life-giving nature of our own planet.
Think about what happens on Earth when you throw up. You throw up and you have a bag of something horrible and then you throw it away, but if I have this bag, what am I going to do with it? This bag is going to stay with me in space for months, so we want a really good barf bag.
A lot of people live in fear because they haven't figured out how you're going to react when faced with a certain set of circumstances. I've come to terms with this by looking deeply into whatever makes me fearful – what are the key elements that get the hairs up on the back of my neck – and then figuring out what I can do about it.
Our three big emergencies are fire, loss of pressurization or contaminated atmosphere. Any of those things in a spaceship are very deadly and time critical. Everybody's trained, but I'm the commander of the ship, and it's up to me to decide.
I'm a mechanical engineer, and I grew up on a farm, so I like practical hardware – somebody's elegant solution that proves itself over the long term.
Airline food is cooked in an oven and then kept warm. Space station food is often cooked in an oven and then thermo-stabilised, irradiated or dehydrated and then stored for a year or two before you even get to it.
In the late '60s, I was seven, eight, nine years old, and what was going on in the news at that time that really excited a seven, eight, nine year old boy was the Space Race.
Every single thing that you learn really just gives you more comfort. It's something I counsel kids all the time: if someone is willing to teach you something for free, take them up on it. Do it. Every single time. All it does is make you more likely to be able to succeed. And it's kind of a nice way to go through life.
Although simulators are great for building step-by-step knowledge of a procedure, the worst thing that can happen in a sim is that you get a bad grade on your performance.
'Boldface' is a pilot term, a magic word to describe the procedures that could, in a crisis, save your life. We say that 'boldface is written in blood' because often it's created in response to an accident investigation. It highlights the series of steps that should have been taken to avoid a fatal crash, but weren't.
Cynicism is the easiest of all reactions, right? But it's also so disappointing and self-defeating.
I've had a chance to see something that is way outside everybody else's frame of reference and gives a perspective that is very different from everyone else's.
When I did my spacewalks, it was during space station construction. So the shuttle was docked to the fledgling ISS at the time. So we would always stay tethered.
You could look at something a hundred times from space, but the next time you come around the world, suddenly it's very different and gorgeous-looking, just because of the change of weather or the angle of the sun.
What I like to do when I get to a new place is buy local music early on and listen to it while we're driving around. I think it helps explain and illuminate the culture of where you are if local music is playing.
Just taking risks for risk's sake, that doesn't do it for me. I'm willing to take risks that I think are worth it, and I've worked so hard to make sure that I survive.
The beauty of the space station, and of human spaceflight, is that it is now at a level of maturity where you can invite people on-board, which is what I worked so hard to do on social media and all the videos I made.
It was remarkable to see from space how predictable people are. Our homes and towns are almost all in places with moderate temperatures, and they generally have the same shape – a thinly occupied outer blob of suburb surrounding a densely populated core, all based around a ready source of water.
I've been so lucky to have done two spacewalks. If you looked at your wristwatch, I was outside about 15 hours, which is about 10 times around the world. And, you know, there's a whole time dilation, distortion thing.
Russians aren't perfect. Their politics are messed up, and they keep going through self-defeating economic cycles. But I have a lot of respect for Russia, and a lot of love for Russians.
I've had a chance to fly a lot of different airplanes, but it was nothing like the shuttle ride.
When you're on one of the Caribbean islands, sometimes it's hard to picture how they fit in with the rest, but when you see them all joined together like a necklace from space, you see the natural geographic connectedness of them all.
If you don't like airline food, you'll probably have the same impression of space station food. I would not fly to space for the food.
It is spectacular. From about five minutes in, when we knew for sure that we were going to have the weather to go, the smile on my face just got bigger and bigger, and I was just beaming through the whole launch. I mean, it is just an amazing ride.
Space is not a good place to mix foods because as soon as you take something out of the package, it becomes a flying object.
As an astronaut, especially during launch, half of the risk of a six-month flight is in the first nine minutes.
I've put a lot of my life into making it possible to fly in space at all.
Almost everything worthwhile carries with it some sort of risk, whether it's starting a new business, whether it's leaving home, whether it's getting married, or whether it's flying in space.