News / Calgary

Astronaut Chris Hadfield streams into Airdrie school

Students at an Airdrie high school had an out-of-this-world experience Monday as they video-chatted with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield live from outer space.

Hadfield spoke with around 1,000 students at Bert Church High School, who were able to ask him questions about space while he’s posted at the International Space Station, where is set to take over as commander later this month.

Plenty of giggles and applause filled the audience as Hadfield flipped through the air and let his microphone float weightlessly in front of him as he spoke.

“Being weightless is just so much fun. There’s no up or down,” he said. “You can just float and turn and tumble, do a thousand somersaults. You can do an interview with students in Airdrie, Alberta sideways if you want.”

Along with the video chat, Grade 9 students in 300 classrooms across the country have been conducting a simultaneous experiment with Hadfield as part of Let’s Talk Science.

The students have been measuring the neutron radiation in their classrooms, and comparing data collected by Hadfield in space where the neutron radiation is much higher.

“I think it’s really cool that we get to do this whole experiment with him, alongside him. We get to compare our results to his,” said student Miranda Schmidt. “I think it’s really exciting.”

Former Canadian astronaut, physician and engineer Bob Thirsk said he hopes the ability to speak directly with Hadfield will encourage students to aim high.

“When I was in high school in Calgary, I was inspired by the Apollo moon program. It played a role in the direction that my education went, and my career went,” he said.

“I hope that there are some students here today that will be inspired by what Chris Hadfield will say and will consider completing high school, or getting a university education . . . and become Canada’s next generation of leaders.”

More than 7,500 students from across Canada are taking part in the Radi-N2 experiment alongside Hadfield.

Getting to space:

  • When asked what flying into space is like, Hadfield said, “It’s like getting pummeled and beaten up and squished by some big fat gorilla sitting on you, and then it picks you up and threw you off a cliff — that’s what it feels like.”
  • The International Space Station is travelling at eight kilometres per second.
  • Hadfield has been tweeting his experience in space from his account: @Cmdr_Hadfield

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