University of Waterloo holds out-of-this-world chat with astronaut Hadfield
Published Friday, February 15, 2013 1:33PM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 15, 2013 6:44PM EST
Students at the University of Waterloo got a once-in-a-lifetime, out-of-this-world experience Friday, as Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield took questions from students.
Hadfield is currently on board the International Space Station as an engineer. He will take over command of the station in March and remain in space until May.
While on board the ISS, Hadfield has been actively communicating with people back on Earth, taking part in live discussions and sending pictures from space through social media.
“It was with a great sense of buoyant energy and readiness that I left Earth’s protective sheath, which is just outside that window, and launched up here to the space station,” he said near the beginning of his 20-minute window with Waterloo.
Students asked Hadfield a wide variety of questions about subjects ranging from if environmental degradation is visible from space to if he has any advice for aspiring astronauts.
On the latter question, Hadfield said prospective astronauts need the ability to make decisions that could have significant consequences, a solid education and a high level of physical health.
“You need a healthy body,” he said.
“You don’t have to go crazy, but exercise enough to stay in shape and don’t eat bad things.”
Other students had questions that were a bit more lighthearted – though still technical – in nature.
“How does Internet work on the ISS?” asked Alex Lee.
The question didn’t faze Hadfield, who was ready with a quick response.
“It works really slowly, if at all,” he said.
“We just barely have Internet on the space station, but we have multiple links to the ground.”
Hadfield told the students that he is able to communicate to NASA bases along a variety of wavelengths, but that the connection speed is “slower than dial-up.”
“When I tap on my computer up here, it goes through a long, long trail all the way down to a ghost computer down there (in mission control),” he said.
Waterloo student Amber Nicholson said she re-arranged her plans for reading week so she could attend the session with Hadfield.
“It was really exciting for me,” she told CTV.
“I actually had a flight booked and I changed it so I could take advantage of this unique educational opportunity.”
Before wrapping up the chat, Hadfield had some kind words for the University of Waterloo and the broader community.
“University of Waterloo is a premiere school in Canada, and the things you’re learning are putting you on the right track not only to fly in space, but in setting you up for life,” he said.
“Waterloo’s a great city – I studied at the university, my son was born there. It’s a great part of Canada.”