View Single Post
Old 09-07-2010, 10:16 AM   #6
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,602
Default Re: Canadian Astronaut also a folk singer

Out-of-this-world praise
Posted 4 hours ago

The next commander of the International Space Station is over the moon when it comes to Kingston.

"It's a great town," said Chris Hadfield, who last week was named the first Canadian to command the station. "I love the Martello Towers and I love the place."

Hadfield came to Kingston in 1980 to complete his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at Royal Military College. His daughter is a graduate of Queen's University.

It was announced Thursday that Hadfield will lead a six-astronaut mission to the space station in 2013 for a half-year of experiments and observation. It's the culmination of a long and illustrious career in flight for the 51-year old Sarnia native, the seeds of which first sprouted here in Kingston.

"I watched the very first shuttle launch on the screen when I was at RMC," Hadfield said in an exclusive interview with the Whig-Standard. "I even kept a small picture of the shuttle above my desk.

"I'd look up and think that one day maybe a Canadian will be able to be part of that."

Hadfield visited the Johnson Space Centre while studying at RMC, and what he saw there cemented his desire to fly among the stars.

"It's one of the reasons I became a pilot," said Hadfield, "but to think that I would one day not only be in space but command an entire space ship would have been the height of arrogance."

Craig Moffat, a retired RMC professor and mentor to Hadfield, remembers the budding young pilot as a highly motivated student who "never had his face glued to the desk, unlike some of his cohort."

"His aspiration to become a pilot was clear and he worked really hard at it," said Moffat. "The one thing that characterized him was his ambition."

Hadfield had his fair share of memories in Kingston, including playing guitar onstage at the Grand Theatre during an RMC talent revue.

"I've played on dark stages in front of a crowd since," said the avid guitarist, "but the Grand was my first experience on a big stage."

Hadfield also recalls setting up his sister on a blind date with a classmate during one of Kingston's bitter winters.

"They were standing outside wrapped in those big heavy winter overcoats that the cadets all have to wear," Hadfield recalled, "and now they've been married for 23 years.

"It was one of those perfect frozen Kingston moments."

Hadfield is no stranger to cold. He was the first Canadian ever to do a spacewalk outside the shuttle, where temperatures can dip to a nippy minus-270 degrees.

In his two trips to space, Hadfield has played a critical role in assembling and operating both Canadarm One and Two. It's an experience that fills him with pride.

"As a Canadian, to look out and see that big Canadian flag and the Canadian wordmark, there's a great undercurrent of pride," he said.

"There's a great deal of satisfaction in seeing the world's best Canadian technology in action when everyone's counting on it."

During his career as a pilot, Hadfield had the privilege to live and train across most of Canada, from Victoria to Chicoutimi to Iqaluit, and he swells with pride when asked about his Canadian roots.

"I'm on the road maybe seven months of the year, but I get back as much as I can," he said. "There's no question where I'm from and where I'm going to end up and what citizenship I am."

From backpacking across Europe as a teenager to testing new propulsion systems for NASA, Hadfield has always worn the Canadian flag as a mark of honour.

"To be able to do everything I have all with a Canadian flag on my shoulder, just like I had the flag on my backpack, is a real badge of pride," he said.

While on his next mission, Hadfield will be operating a piece of Canadian-made technology other than the Canadarm; a Larrivee guitar built in Vancouver.

"I'm looking forward to floating weightless by the cupola windows and playing some of the Canadian music I know and love," he said.

"Stan Rogers has a great song called Take It From Day to Day, which is about exploration in the Canadian north and stuff like that is beautiful to play. Gordon Lightfoot's music is also very evocative of Canadian imagery for me," Hadfield said, "but the Arrogant Worms are more my style," he confessed.

"They're a good Kingston band."
charlene is offline   Reply With Quote