Prime Minister Stephen Harper today participated in a live video conference with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who recently became the first Canadian to command the International Space Station. Prime Minister Harper also moderated a Q&A session with students between the ages of 8 and 12 from the Ottawa area and from the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. The event took place at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.
“Canadians are tremendously proud of Chris Hadfield and all of his impressive achievements,” said Prime Minister Harper. “He epitomizes how the citizens of our great country continue to push the frontiers of exploration and knowledge. His teaching and sharing via social media are inspiring young people, like those joining me today, to dream big and achieve those dreams.”
As head of the International Space Station, Commander Hadfield is responsible for maintaining the health and safety of the crew, and for keeping the space station productive and functioning properly. Some of these duties include engineering, vehicle safety and the supervision of over 100 science experiments; many with the potential to enhance the quality of our lives here on Earth and further enhance the strength and expertise of the Canadian scientific community.
Commander Hadfield is no stranger to the vast expanse of space. He is the only Canadian to have boarded Mir, the Russian Space Station; the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm in orbit; the first Canadian to perform a spacewalk—when he attached Canadarm2 to the ISS; and now, the first Canadian to Command the International Space Station.
Chris Hadfield became the first Canadian Commander of the ISS on March 13, 2013, taking the helm from U.S. Commander Kevin Ford (NASA). This is Commander Hadfield’s third mission to space. He launched to the Station on December 19, 2012, and is scheduled to stay aboard until May 13, 2013, when he is due to return to Earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule.