Local school children and the general public were able to watch a presentation by Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen on Friday.
Mr. Hansen’s presentation was delivered in person at the Peacock College auditorium for students from Prairie South School District and Holy Trinity Catholic School District, and livestreamed to the public at the Moose Jaw Public Library Theater.
Last year, Moose Jaw Public Library received a grant from the Canadian Space Agency that will enable more science, technology, engineering and math summer programs. The library also successfully applied for an astronaut visit.
As well, this was the first event for the City of Moose Jaw to commemorate the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Hansen said his interest in space began when he was looking at an encyclopedia about airplanes when he was young and accidentally turned the page and landed on “Neil Armstrong.” He saw a photo of the moon and wanted to become a space explorer.
His father convinced him to join the Air Cadets, which he said changed his life. That eventually led him to join the Royal Canadian Air Force, where he flew his CF-18 for many years and remains an active duty member of the Air Force. However, in the back of his mind he knew he wanted to become an astronaut.
“I knew that someday the Canadian Space Agency would be looking for new astronauts, and that someday I would apply,” Hansen told the crowd.
He applied to become an astronaut in 2008 and was selected to begin astronaut training in 2009, making that day a reality.
He moved to Houston, Texas, began training, and is now one of four active astronauts with the Canadian Space Agency.
A little less than a year ago, Hansen was assigned to the Artemis II mission along with American astronauts Reed Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch. This mission will make Hansen the first non-American to fly beyond low Earth orbit.
He said part of the mission will be about technological innovations to eventually reach Mars. This includes larger and more powerful rockets. His mission will use a Space Launch System rocket to launch him into space at a speed of approximately 28,000 km/h.
“Seeing a rocket launch up close is an emotional experience. You don’t see a rocket launch, you experience it. You feel it, it’s in your chest, it’s in your chest. Like thunder. It’s quite a sight,” Hansen said.
Once in space, the capsule will circle the Earth to make sure everything is working properly. This will take approximately 1.5 hours.
If all is well, it will ignite its engines again, pick up speed, orbit Earth again, and swoop down toward Earth for the capsule’s test flight. All this takes about a day.
Next up is what’s called a “translunar injection,” in which it will ignite its engines again and fly around the moon at 38 times the speed of sound, before returning to Earth and landing in the Pacific Ocean. Overall, the mission is expected to take about nine days, he said.
He said it’s a different mindset to be an astronaut because if something happens in space, the only people who can help you are the crew. As such, they all have medical training and a lot of practice and rehearsal before any mission takes place. The Artemis II mission is scheduled to launch by September 2025 at the earliest.
Although this will be Hansen’s first mission to space, he said Canada has a long history of collaboration and innovation in space technology. Examples he cited include Canadarm 2 and a robot on the International Space Station called Dexter that performs repairs outdoors without spacewalking. He said Canada is currently working on Canadarm3, as well as lunar rovers and other robots that could be used on the moon.
He added that Canada has made significant contributions to the International Space Station with partners from the United States, Russia, the European Space Agency and Japan.
You can watch Hansen’s entire presentation below.