Everybody knows that I despise the cold. I dread it and worry about it from spring to fall. So, people are shocked to hear that I’m leaving the comforts of Collingwood shortly for a trip that will take me first to Russia and then to Kazakhstan where temperatures could be -30 below. There is a really good reason for it.
I’m going to witness history. Think for a moment, if you could have seen Columbus set sail, would you have gone? That’s how this feels. I’m going to watch space pioneers launch in a Russian Soyuz rocket so they can arrive about two days later at the International Space Station (ISS).
My best friend since high school, Helene, married her high school sweetheart, Chris Hadfield. Ever since he was a teenager, Chris was determined to be an astronaut. He tailored his every life decision to that objective and as most know, he did it. He has travelled in space twice and this time, he will finally realize his dream of living in space for a long duration.
Chris will be flying in the Soyuz rocket with two other astronauts aboard including NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko. They launch on December 19th from Kazakhstan and will remain on the ISS for 5 months.
And here is the best news of all. Chris will be the first Canadian to command the ISS when he takes on that role in March during the second half of his mission. What an honour for our country! I’ve never felt more proud to be a Canadian.
In a National Post article earlier this week, Chris talked about his unique perspective of the world:
“You can see the southern and northern lights from end to end as if the world was electrically alive underneath your feet. The world is beautiful. I wish everybody could spend time going around the world and seeing the whole thing every 90 minutes — over and over and over again — and stop focusing so much on their street, or their bit of sand or whatever is important to them, and just look at the whole world. It’s humbling, and its ours, and it’s what keeps us alive.”
So, I’m flying over to witness this historic occasion for our nation and for a monumental moment in the lives of the Hadfield family. Most of all, I’m going over to hold hands with Helene at this incredible time. She is every bit as much a hero in this story and I know without a doubt, that without her, this would not be happening. It is such an honour and privilege to have this opportunity and I will carry the goodwill of so very many friends and family members to Commander Chris and his family.
Oh, and with any luck, I’ll come back without frost bite too.
You can follow Chris on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield