LIVE – Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques answers questions from media

LIVE – Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques answers questions from media


Hello. Welcome to the Canadian Space Agency. Welcome to everyone who’s joining us online. In a few moments, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will join us live from the International Space Station. This will be the last chance to ask him questions before his return to earth, which is scheduled for next week. His space mission was an extraordinary opportunity to engage young Canadians in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Over the last several months, we’ve held events similar to this one across the country, interacting with an astronaut whose life in space is a unique experience. Watching the faces of young people light up when they speak to David is really very special. In addition to these events, the Canadian Space Agency and our partners have offered a wide variety of activities, contests and initiatives to reach outside of our usual audience and engage the most Canadians possible in this mission. One of these activities was the Wanted: Creative Writers contest. This initiative was inspired by David, who is the father of three young children who love to have stories read to them before bedtime. The objective was to promote the mission and space, but also to encourage an interest in reading and foster science literacy. Canadians from coast to coast to coast were invited to write a children’s story on the theme of space and submit it to the Space Agency. Over 600 submissions were received from across the country, with close to 500 of them coming from youth 9 to 16 years old. Today, we have the pleasure to have with us the six finalists of the Wanted: Creative Writers contest.
Creative Writers contest. Their stories are all published on our website and were sent to David, who was supposed to choose the winner. He enjoyed them all so much that we officially have six winners. Chloé Jones, Sarah Al Fahed, Ariane Laroche, Fumairia Laureijs, Guillaume Labbé and Laura Clow. To present a surprise to our winners, I’d like to invite our special guest, Michael Groves, Senior Director Ottawa Manufacturing for the Royal Canadian Mint to come up on stage. (Applause) Thank you, Andrea. The Royal Canadian Mint is proud to be working with the Canadian Space Agency and to be able to present today’s creative writing contest winners for David Saint-Jacques’s mission with a special space-themed prize. We are pleased to present to you, each of you, a convex $25 fine silver coin commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The story behind the Apollo 11 mission, and behind the design of this coin, is based on an important Canadian contribution. You’ll see that the coin shows the iconic Apollo 11 lunar module. And if you look closely, you’ll see the landing gear which was designed by Heroux-Devtek, a Canadian company located right here in Longueuil, Quebec. So the first thing to touch down on the moon was Canadian. The words on the coin are those of then-prime minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Some world leaders had sent messages of hope for the historic mission. These messages were written on a silicon disc, about the size of an American 50-cent coin, which was left on the lunar surface. Trudeau had written: “Man has reached out and touched the tranquil moon. May that high accomplishment allow man to rediscover the Earth and find peace.” There is even more to this Canadian tale, so you’ll have to watch for more information on July 20th, the official anniversary. The Royal Canadian Mint and the Canadian Space Agency will have another surprise to commemorate this historical moment. Merci and thank you. (Applause) Thank you, Mr. Groves. Let’s, let’s invite our winners up to the front, shall we? So, from the 9-to-12-year-old category, I invite Chloé Jones and Sarah Al Fahed to the front. Chloe Jones lives in Victoria, British Columbia. She is the author of Green and Red. She wrote a story about Hugo, a Martian who is different from others and has always wanted to visit Earth. One day, a rocket lands on his planet and all of the Martians are ready to attack the two astronauts. But Hugo leads them to question why the earthlings came. Pluto, the Dwarf Planet, was written by Sarah Al Fahed from Kitchener, Ontario. It begins when Pluto hears that he isn’t a planet anymore, but he’s a dwarf planet. When all the other planets make fun of him, he tries to be like Saturn, Jupiter and many others, but it doesn’t work. Thanks to the sun’s wise advice, Pluto finally realizes that he’s special in his own way. (Applause) Next, from the 13-to-15-year-old category, I invite Ariane Laroche and Fumairia Laureijs to the front. King of the Sky was written by Ariane Laroche of Sherbrooke, Quebec. She tells the story of three kings who ruled the world and controlled the water, the land and the sky. After seeing several shooting stars, the King of the Sky wanted to understand why these stars were escaping. He visited the other two kings to find the answer, but it is a meeting with a fisherman that enlightens him. Fumairia Laureijs from Amherst, Nova Scotia, is the author of Space Day! What does Hunter decide to do when school is closed? He’s going to space with his friends Rex the Dragon, Troy the Wolf and Sam the Snake. They put on their space suits, build a rocket and launch. They land on Mars and have a lot of fun until an unexpected problem forces them to quickly get back in the rocket and return to Earth. (Applause) And from the 16+ category, I invite Guillaume Labbé and Laura Clow to the front. When you’ve got to go… by Guillaume Labbé of Gatineau, Quebec, is the story of a drop of water that wants to fly into space. It begins its journey in a cloud and winds up in an astronaut’s body and eventually in space. This drop allows us to discover that the water cycle follows its course both
on Earth and in space. The Lion Heart is by Laura Clow from Ottawa, Ontario. Once, in a galaxy not so far away, sat three constellations, Orion, Leo and Cassiopeia. This story starts with Orion teasing Leo and telling him he’s not a real lion. While thinking about what he can do to prove himself, a rocket in flames crosses Leo’s path and his actions show him that the true meaning of courage lies within. A big round of applause for all our winners (applause), and a big thank-you to Mr. Groves and the Royal Canadian Mint for their participation in this special event. We are now just moments away from connecting with David on the station. Just confirming how much time we have left. Looks like we have Mission Control. We have one more minute. So, I don’t if any of you are following us on social media, but David is getting ready for his return now. They were doing some leak checks on their Sokol suits earlier this week and we’re really at the end of the mission. Thirty seconds. Here we are. Houston, this is Station, I’m ready. Canadian Space Agency, this is Mission Control Houston. Please call station for a voice check. Station, this is the Canadian Space Agency. How do you hear me? I hear you loud and clear. How are you? Hello everybody. Welcome on board Space Station. Thank you, David. Thanks for joining us today. We are in good company here with our special guests, the six winners of the Wanted: Creative Writers contest and Mr. Groves, a representative from the Royal Canadian Mint. They have just been presented with a recognition award, the new collector coin celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Would you like to say a few words to them? Certainly. Thank you very much for the opportunity. Welcome everyone to the Canadian Space Agency. Welcome aboard the space station, and I am pleased to talk to all of you, the winners of the writing contest. I really enjoyed reading your stories. It was a great pleasure to read all the stories. Congratulations to all the winners and all the participants of the writing contest. I have young children myself, and it’s something that we like to do. I can keep reading stories to them, even from space. I had the chance to read your stories to my children, so it was a great pleasure. Congratulations! Continue to use your creativity. Creativity and imagination are the basis, the basis of everything positive in life. Congratulations again. The media representatives here have a lot of questions for you today. So we’ll start with the questions. Hi Mr. Saint-Jacques, it’s (inaudible – technical difficulties). So many highlights in the last six months, cosmic catches and spacewalks. Can you tell me a little bit about your most memorable moments in this, over this six-month period? And what are your final days going to be like on the, on the International Space Station? Sorry, you clipped towards the end there. Can you repeat the end of the question? The question was just your, your biggest highlights over the last six months and what your final days will be like wrapping up on the International Space Station? So yes, I think, so the final days on the Space Station, less than a week left. It’s very hard to believe, it’s been an incredible, incredibly full mission and so much activity going on, both in terms of science and in terms of operations. You mentioned the spacewalk, a capture, the arrival of the, the first version of the next generation of crew vehicles. And mostly, it’s been an incredible human adventure with our crew here, initially six people, and then three left. We were left with three of us for a long period and three more people came. A whole new atmosphere on board. And as we’re ramping up, what I’m doing for the last few days is really trying to soak it all in, if you want, because I know that comes, the day I go back to Earth I will have to pinch myself. I think it will all feel like a dream. I will be maybe wondering if it all really happened. So I’m trying to burn it into my memory as much as I can. Yes, hello. Anne-Louise Despatie from Radio-Canada. Hello, Mr. Saint-Jacques. Besides great joy of being back with your family, can you tell us about some everyday pleasures, one or two things that you missed in space that you will be very eager to do again on Earth? First of all, I want to reiterate that the, what I want to do most is hug my wife Véronique and my children, to put my children on my shoulders. I can (inaudible) ready for that again, after a little rehabilitation, I will surely be able to put them on my shoulders. But, as for the little pleasures in life, I look forward to feeling the wind on my face, the fresh air, the wind. You can see the sun when you look out the window, but you don’t have any wind here. I miss that. And I don’t know why, but the other day I saw a fire, a picture of a campfire and it really touched me. I can’t wait to see the glow of a fire at sunset. It’s something I really like. And otherwise, well, family meals, meals with friends, just walking around in a city where there are a lot of people. I can’t wait to do that, walk down the street where there are a lot of people. It’s always the same faces here. Fortunately, it’s people we like. Hello Mr. Saint-Jacques. Marie-Anne Lapierre from TVA Nouvelles. How are you preparing for your return to Earth? Is there anything you’re concerned about? And what’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home? Yeah, so how do we prepare? Well, first of all, there’s the whole technical aspect, as you can imagine, right? It’s not, it’s not something minor, coming back to Earth. You literally fall from the sky, so you have to do it safely. All the manoeuvres in the Soyuz capsule, we’re studying them with my commander, Aleg, to make sure we’re on top of our procedures. So, there is a technical side to be addressed. And otherwise, psychologically, the preparation, well I think the most important thing is to make sure that we leave the station with a peaceful feeling, without any feeling of regret, to feel that we have done everything we had to do here. That’s how we make sure we’re on Earth ready to resume the life we came from, in fact. What’s the first thing I want to do when I get back? I think that when I land, well, it’s going to be giving my wife a call, giving Véronique a call with a satellite phone. That’ll certainly be the first thing I’ll want to do. And when we go home, I may be tempted to go into the pool, because I expect gravity to be a little painful at first. So, in the pool you can float. Maybe it’ll feel a little bit like being here. Hello Mr. Saint-Jacques, Fanny Robacher (ph) from La Presse. I would like to know what you’ll miss most about the Space Station? So, what I’m going to miss first, many things. The view certainly. Just before this interview, I was again in the Cupola watching Egypt passing by, for example. That’s what I wanted to see. So, the view of the Earth, its impressive beauty, its grace, as it rolls gently in the void of space, the thin blue layer of atmosphere that keeps us all alive. There is a feeling of, of quiet strength, a time of fragility and responsibilities. So I’m going to miss that. And then, this, this feeling of privilege to represent the whole world a little bit on board here, to have this incredible opportunity to participate a little bit in the expansion of our knowledge, that is something I will surely miss. And the crew. My brothers and sisters in arms, as they say. We are much closer than colleagues, we are even closer than, than friends. We really have become kind of like siblings. I will miss these people, this experience is something that will always stay with me. Hello. Annie Guillemette from 98.5. You said you’re about to fall from the sky. It’s not exactly an easy ride home. Is there anything that’s troubling you or bothering you a little bit about this trip that’s not exactly easy? Yes, well, there are two aspects, if you will, particularly painful medical aspects, that my experienced colleagues warned me about. First, after six months here in space, you know, without the effects of gravity, I have learned to fly, I have learned to move around in all directions without any discomfort and technically, the reason why it’s possible is because my inner ear, which feels the effect of gravity, well it’s like my brain disconnected it. So I have lost my sense of balance. And that’s what keeps us from being nauseous here on board in orbit. But when I come back to Earth, gravity, I don’t think it’s going to be my friend at first. I anticipate feeling a little shaky, having to hold someone’s hand to walk straight. Maybe being nauseous, maybe also having problems with blood circulation, all the blood that will want to fall back into my legs under the effects of gravity. There’s that, then there’s also a muscle effect too, another aspect. But I grew by a few centimetres precisely because my spine straightened out completely. There’s almost no more curvature. Each disc has expanded. When I come back to Earth (cracking sound), I’m going to squish down again under the effects of gravity and that, it seems, can be painful. So, technically, these two aspects that I, that I am expecting with more or less joy. Amanda Kline with CTV. Can you say that a little bit in English just how you’ve changed in space and how you’re going to, sort of, readapt once you’re back on Earth? And also if you can explain or just tell us a bit about what you’re most looking forward to when you come back? Okay, so first off, so things to look forward to and not to look forward to back on Earth. The things to look forward to, of course, are reunification with my family, my friends, my loved ones. I cannot wait to take Véronique in my arms and take my children on my shoulders. Taking my children on my shoulders, that might have to wait, a little bit of rehab, cause I kind of, I’ll be weak, I think, when I come back. And the bad aspects of space on your health is that, on the one hand, I’ve learned to fly, so I’ve learned to make flips and I can be upside down, it doesn’t bother me anymore. That’s because I basically lost all sense of gravity. I’ve lost all sense of balance. When I come back to Earth, I’m going to need to learn to walk again. I’m going to be holding someone’s hand probably, I might be nauseous or easily disoriented. That’s something I’m going to need to — it’ll probably take days or weeks before that gets back. Another aspect is I’ve grown a little bit. My spine has kind of elongated and every disc and my vertebrae is kind of, you know, has expanded a little bit because there’s no gravity to squish you down. But when I come back to Earth, immediately (cracking sound) I’m going to be squished back down to my original size and that can be quite painful, I’m told. So I’ll be careful. Looking forward perhaps to jumping in the pool because in the water, you can float and it’s quite comfortable. Maybe it will remind me of being, my days here in space. Dr. Saint-Jacques, Rémy Authier from Radio-Canada. The space mission was an incredible experience for you, a privilege, but you, you did scientific tests, you had a job to do on the station. What are you most proud of? What do you think will be the legacy you will bring back from this mission in space? Well, I think the most important thing about space flight is the perspective it gives us all. So, I am, I have the privilege of carrying that perspective within me, so if there is a legacy that I hope to leave, it is to have shared that perspective, that perspective of how beautiful and fragile our planet is and how we must take care of it. It is our responsibility for future generations. A political perspective, too. You see behind me the flags of all the countries that contributed to the construction of the station. The group here, we represent various nations where, where things are not always rosy on Earth, you know? We know that there are political tensions, real tensions. But space is a place where we can demonstrate every day that when we decide to put aside our differences and focus on what we have in common, we can work miracles. We are able to work together, and that is a very promising message for me. I am especially proud to have been able to be part of this daily example that we can work together, human beings, and when we do, we can accomplish extraordinary things. So, it’s a message a little bit for, for future generations. Our planet is beautiful, fragile, let’s take care of it, explore it and we are able to work together. There is no excuse. We just need to make the effort. Hello. Hugo Duchesne from the Journal de Montréal. What was your biggest challenge during your six months in space? Well, first of all, there was an adaptation challenge, right? It took several weeks before my body physically adapted to this environment. It was very disorienting at first, both in space and time. We’re all a little nauseous at first too, because of, our brains don’t understand what’s going on with, where’s the gravity? What’s going on, where’s up, where’s down? After that, on the psychological side, adapting to living in this environment here. We’re extremely busy from day one. You have to learn how everything works. We had a lot of ground training, but there’s nothing like hands-on learning. So that’s why there’s always a time, if you will, when both, the crews that are leaving can teach the incoming crews how the station works. So that was also a great challenge to learn how to become functional on board. Finally, well, we also learned how to live, how, my family and I, we learned how to exist, how to live far away from one another, how to keep the link alive so that it will be a great adventure for everyone in the end, so that it will be positive and that’s maybe, that’s, that’s the secret, eh, to be able to juggle. It’s one thing to be a good astronaut, but it’s another to do it while being a good husband, a good father, a good friend, a good son. Juggling all these balls is everyone’s challenge in life. Marie-Josée Paquette-Comeau from Radio-Canada. Hello. I would like to know, for the next few days until June 24, could you tell us how the next few days and your landing will go? What will be the risks and manoeuvres? So, the next few days are going to be, well, it’s a mix of normal station activities, if you will. Scientific experiments, equipment maintenance activities. That doesn’t stop. But at the same time, well, we’re packing our bags. So you shouldn’t leave any trace, sort of like the camping rule, you know, when we say leave no trace. You can take pictures but you can’t leave a trace. Same thing on board. The next crew to arrive, I have to be invisible to them. So we go around, the computers, personal equipment, our clothes, all that. After that, well, we can bring a few special items back to Earth. So, in the Soyuz, or in another cargo capsule that will come down. So, we have to pack carefully for it to return. And then, the theoretical preparations. I have to study a lot because all the procedures for returning to Earth in Soyuz, well, you have to have them at your fingertips. I mastered them nine months ago when I took my certification exams, but I have to review them carefully. So we’re spending a lot of time these days with the crew making sure we have, that we come back. It’s like a change of attitude. We are more, we have to become a Soyuz crew again to be able to return home in complete safety. And when that happens, take a few hours, we’ll literally fall back to Earth, and after crossing the atmosphere, opening the parachutes, we’ll land in Kazakhstan. We will be picked up by the, the Russian crews and they will take us to an airport and then we’ll return directly to Houston to be reunited with our family. Hello, Paul Therrien, from Le Journal de Montréal. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, I would like to know what effect that historic event had on you. And how have the last few months changed your perspective on the moon landing and astronauts and the Apollo mission? Yes, it was an extraordinary event, right? And I hadn’t been born when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, but my mother was pregnant with me. So I don’t know if it was transmitted through the amniotic fluid and the umbilical cord, but the, we all heard, everyone has a story about that day. For me, Apollo, it was always a bit of a myth in my mind as a child, these images of the Earth seen from the moon. It formed my idea of the, my perspective of the world really, my perspective of the spirit of adventure and a kind of model to follow. I had an idea of what astronauts were and I thought to myself, I wish I were the same kind of person. I would stay in shape, go to university, be an adventurer, an explorer, learn foreign languages… And it’s like, it guided me a little bit, all that. And since I’ve been in space, since I’ve seen the sweep of the planets, the Earth, the moon, the sun orbiting each other, it seems like it’s all getting more familiar. It’s as if I saw the path they took going up and it’s, I, yes, I often like to, I put myself in their place when they had just been put into orbit around the Earth. And then after that, when they ignite the engines again to go to the moon, I sometimes like to fantasize, to imagine that we are doing it ourselves here. And it’s going to happen again soon. The, the next moon voyages are at a turning point. Hello David, Philippe Mercure from La Presse. When you leave the station in a few days, do you feel you will be saying goodbye for now or will it be a final farewell? Sorry, I, it cut. Can you repeat that? I wanted to know when you’re leaving the station, do you feel like you will be saying goodbye for now or will it be a final farewell? In short, are you open to another mission later? I’m sorry, I’m going to have to ask you to repeat it again. So, David, the question was, when you leave the station, will it be goodbye for now or a final farewell? So, are you open to another mission? Yes. We always leave here, it’s one of the rules for astronauts, we always leave saying farewell because it’s, we never decide, right? We’re not the ones who decide. We are here as representatives of our respective nations. We’re here as operators, like, we’re here to do a mission organized by others. It’s the mission of all Canadians that I am here, that I am privileged to represent. So it’s always wiser to leave saying farewell and prepare to live, to relive all this in memory only. And then what the future brings, that I don’t know, I don’t have my crystal ball, but I know it’s been such an intense adventure, it’s so imprinted in my memory that it won’t be difficult to close my eyes and, and to come back here virtually. Now, maybe it will seem like a dream to me. I don’t know if I’m going to believe it. (Inaudible) we have with you today. We have to say goodbye or rather, see you soon. And we wish you a safe return to Earth. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you everybody. See you soon. (Applause) So that completes our event for today. I’d like to thank everyone who joined us today here in the room and on social media. If you don’t already follow the Canadian Space Agency on social media, don’t wait. We hope you’ll join us next week on Monday for David’s return to Earth. Only five days to go, 12 hours and I’m not quite sure how many minutes. Thank you all. Stay tuned for all the details on David’s return to Earth next Monday. Thank you and have a good day. I’m just going to invite the writers to come up on stage and we’ll take a group picture.

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