Browsing Tag: International Space Station

Col. Chris Hadfield describes life onboard the International Space Station to a packed house at the Future of Flight. Photo: Kris Hull

Col. Chris Hadfield describes life onboard the International Space Station to a packed house at the Future of Flight – Photo: Kris Hull

Colonel Chris Hadfield (RCAF ret.) is probably one of the most easily recognizable astronauts today. His popularity was spurred to rock star-like status in 2012 while he was training for his final spaceflight, a five-month stay on the International Space Station. Recently, Col. Hadfield made a stop in Everett, WA, to promote his newest book, You are Here – Around the World in 92 Minutes, and AirlineReporter had a few minutes to sit down and talk with this amazing man about his missions, his infamous tweets, and his books.

Chris Hadfield, Canada's most famous astronaut! portrait. Photo: NASA

Chris Hadfield, Canada’s most famous astronaut! Photo: NASA

In the last fifteen to twenty years, no astronaut has risen to the popularity that Chris Hadfield has. As one of the few Canadian astronauts, he has had the honor of flying into space three times: twice on the Space Shuttle, and once on a Soyuz. On his last mission, he assumed command of the International Space Station, only the second non-American or Russian to hold that honor. He was the only Canadian to visit the Russian space station Mir  and was the first Canadian to walk in space.

When asked about his two space walks, and what it was like to exit that hatch for the first time, he said “It’s very visually powerful. It is overwhelmingly visually powerful outside. You have the Earth going by underneath you at five miles a second, and all of the colors that exist, the textures, are just amazing. When you look the other way, it is the complete blackness of the universe going on forever. And you are in the middle of all of this, hanging onto a silver and white man-made structure, holding on with one hand. The onslaught coming in through your eyes is amazing. Your eyes is the only sense that tells you were you are. It is an overwhelming experience. When I go back and watch the video of the first time I exited the hatch, I can see that I just stopped for several seconds and just took it all in. We over use the words awesome and incredible, but walking in space is both of these things.”

Antares explodes following a loss of thrust. Photo: NASA

Antares explodes following a loss of thrust – Photo: NASA

The last week of October, 2014 was not a good one for commercial space flight. The week started with Orbital Sciences (OSC) attempting to launch their Antares rocket, carrying their unmanned Cygnus cargo vessel to the International Space Station. After a cancelled launch on Monday for a boat in the safety zone, the second attempt on Tuesday ended in failure.

Seven seconds after liftoff, a catastrophic failure in one or both of the engines caused the rocket to lose all thrust and fall back onto the launch pad, with a large explosion. OSC had launched the Antares four times previously with success, three of those times carrying a Cygnus craft. The company has been a major player in the spaceflight industry for over 30 years, having proven themselves with their unique Pegasus rocket, and a wide range of commercial satellites that they produce for various customers.

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo togther - Photo: Virgin Galactic

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo togther – Photo: Virgin Galactic

With the failure of the Antares still fresh in everyone’s mind, on the following Friday, Virgin Galactic prepared for a test flight of their private space passenger vehicle, SpaceShipTwo. Shortly after 10:00AM PST, Virgin sent out a cryptic tweet: “#SpaceShipTwo has experienced an in-flight anomaly.” That anomaly turned out to be a worst-case scenario, with the craft breaking up 55,000 ft above the Mojave Desert for still-unkown reasons. With one pilot in serious condition, the other was not as lucky. Mark Alsbury was the latest test pilot to pay the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of pushing aviation to the limits. Over the past 70 years, hundreds of brave pilots gave their all for the same purpose, and it has not been in vain.