Astronaut Chris Hadfield Tour

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Tour

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Posted 2023-06-01 by Tony Collinsfollow

Thu 15 Jun 2023 - Sun 25 Jun 2023

He has done what only a tiny fraction of mortals have ever achieved. But now former astronaut Chris Hadfield will be very much back on firm ground when he embarks on a UK tour later this month. Chris is in the extraordinarily rare position of having spent 15 hours literally in space. Not in a rocket, not on board a space station, but on spacewalks in the infinite cosmos during his 21-year career as an astronaut for the likes of NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. Having become the first Canadian to walk in space, Chris came to wider global attention during his six-month tenure as commander of the International Space Station when he recorded a version of David Bowie’s hit Space Oddity on board, and through documenting his journey via social media.

Since his retirement in 2013, Chris has written four best-selling books – with his fifth, The Defector, a thriller drawing on his time as a fighter pilot, due for release in the autumn. Now he’s returning to the UK and Ireland with a new and exclusive tour for 2023 that includes a visit to Symphony Hall , Birmingham, on June 23. His show, which is titled On Earth And Space – Chris Hadfield’s Guide To The Cosmos, will see the former astronaut share his thoughts on the new age of space travel and what it will mean for life on Earth in the future. Weekend Notes caught up with Chris ahead of the tour to ask what audiences can expect from his show.

Chris Hadfield in space. Credit NASA


He said: “It will be an evening of discovery and digging into many ideas about space, of where we have come from, where we are and where it’s leading to, helping us to understand more about where space exploration is heading with the technological advancements like today’s rockets and the James Webb Telescope.” Chris's fascination for space began as a nine-year-old, watching Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong take part in the first ever lunar landing and Moon walk. “What I saw was the most exciting thing human beings had ever done, and I wanted to be part of that,” he recalls. Having learnt to fly at the age of 15, Chris went on to enlist with the Canadian Armed Forces, where he eventually became a combat fighter pilot and test pilot. He also spent time with both the US Navy and US Air Force before joining the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut programme aged 33.

So what was that like?
"The day you get the phone call to be selected to the Canadian Space Agency is one of the most amazing moments,” Chris said. “To put it in context, a recent intake to NASA saw 18,300 applications for 11 places. When I applied to the Canadian Space Agency in 1992, there were 5,300 applicants for four places. To get that phone call on a Saturday afternoon, when you’re a test pilot for the US Navy, to say Canada would like you to be an astronaut, is incredible.” Chris's achievement as the first Canadian to spacewalk is commemorated on the Canadian $5 bill. He is also the only Canadian to have ever commanded a spaceship, and has incredibly orbited the Earth more than 2,600 times.

Chris has completed 15 hours of spacewalks. Credit Dmitry Lovetsky


What about that first spacewalk?
Chris said stepping out into space is "literally and figuratively an other-worldly experience", but the moment is dominated by the responsibility of the tasks on hand. He added: “It’s very dangerous, but there’s a huge number of things to squeeze in in a wildly different environment, at very high stakes. The vast majority of what you’re thinking about is the detail and work you are doing, and the life and death enormity of performing each step and paying attention to each minor detail, as well as dealing with the things that can and do go wrong – I was blinded on my first walk, and there have been instances where there’s been a danger of someone drowning as cooling water gets into the suit’s helmet. It is also immensely exciting and the absolute personification of what I dreamed about as a nine-year-old boy. It is so exhilarating: The physical experience of pulling yourself out of a small airlock on the ISS into the infinite 3D of the universe, with Earth right there. It’s overwhelming. It gobsmacks you and stops thought. It’s an amazing time and place to be in your life.”

What was the view like?
Looking up, in a glance you can see if that you’re over London, Glasgow, Dublin, but then you can also see Stockholm, Rome, the Alps, all right there in the same view. I couldn’t ‘see’ quickly enough in the instant, as the Earth is flashing by at 8km per second – you cross the UK in a matter of seconds. You find yourself looking for things you know, for touchstones of familiarity, and you get better at looking. I’ve orbited Earth 2,650 times, and the very last time was even more enlightening and enriching than the first. Viewing Earth from space over time is like watching the planet take a breath. You see winter and summer swap between the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Because the planet is on a tilt, and not all planets have that, we have our distinctive seasons. Seeing that unfold above you is extremely provocative.”

The former astronaut will be back on solid ground at Symphony Hall. Credit Mike Gutteridge


So, what does the future hold for space travel?
"There’s been growing excitement surrounding a new era of space exploration in recent years, with the launch of the Artemis missions to the Moon – which aim to see humanity set foot on the Moon again, as well as more commercial ventures, such as the Virgin Orbit launch attempt from Cornwall earlier this year." Chris said that humans have always been explorers by nature. “Humans were looking up, dreaming of space for 100,000 years, naming constellations, studying the skies. When I was born, no one had flown in space yet. We reached space 61 years ago – all as part of that natural urge to explore, which was previously limited by technology. Now we’re at a place where the technology is rapidly improving and opening many, many opportunities.

We’re looking imminently at settlement on the Moon, initially robotic, but then human settlement. The reality of getting people there soon is increasing. There are 77 national space agencies in the world, and the Moon is where they are all headed. Alongside that, we have had robots at all the planets in the Solar System. Telescopes, like the James Webb, are looking at planets orbiting other stars and can see their atmospheres. Eventually there will be people on Mars, not just robots. Mars has an atmosphere and water, and that’s essential for human life. There are daunting problems to solve, but drawing on the many thousands of years of the restless, inventive human nature to be explorers, that’s where we are going.”

For further information, and to book tickets for an out-of-this-world evening, visit www.fane.co.uk/chris-hadfield

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!date 15/06/2023 -- 25/06/2023
78830 - 2023-05-25 19:38:56

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