Local school children, as well as the general public, got to take in a presentation from Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen on Friday. 

Hansen’s presentation was done in person at the Peacock Collegiate auditorium for students in the Prairie South School Division and Holy Trinity Catholic School Division and live-streamed at the Moose Jaw Public Library Theatre for the general public. 

This past year, the Moose Jaw Public Library received a grant from the Canadian Space Agency to allow for more science, technology, engineering and math summer programming. The library was also successful in applying to have an astronaut visit.  

As well, this was the City of Moose Jaw’s first event commemorating the Royal Canadian Air Force. 

Hansen said his interest in space began at a young when he was looking in an encyclopedia about airplanes and mistakenly flipped to the wrong page and landed on “Neil Armstrong.” He saw the picture of the moon and knew he wanted to be a space explorer. 

His dad convinced him to join the Air Cadets, which he said changed his life. It eventually led to him joining the Royal Canadian Air Force and flying CF-18s for many years and he remains an active member of the Air Force. Yet, in the back of his mind, he knew he wanted to be an astronaut. 

“I knew someday the Canadian Space Agency would be looking for new astronauts and someday I would apply,” Hansen told the crowd. 

He applied to be an astronaut in 2008 and that day came true in 2009 when he was selected to begin astronaut training. 

He moved to Houston, Texas, and began training and is now one of four active astronauts for the Canadian Space Agency. 

Just under a year ago, Hansen was assigned to the Artemis II mission with American astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover and Christina Koch. This mission would make Hansen the first non-American to go beyond Earth’s low orbit. 

He said part of the mission is about innovating technology to eventually get to Mars. This includes bigger and more powerful rockets. His mission will be using the Space Launch System rockets that will send them into space at a speed of about 28,000 km/h. 

“When you see a rocket launch up close it’s an emotional experience. You don’t see a rocket launch, you experience it. You feel it, it’s in your chest, like thunder in your chest. It’s quite the sight,” said Hansen. 

Once in space, they will orbit the Earth once to check out the capsule to make sure everything is working, which takes about an hour and a half.  

If everything checks out, they will fire the engines again to speed up to do another orbit of the Earth and zip down towards Earth for a test flight for the capsule. All of that takes about a day. 

Next is something called “Trans-Lunar injection” when the engines are fired again to fly 38 times the speed of sound to fly around the moon and back to Earth, landing in the Pacific Ocean. Overall, he said the mission is expected to take about nine days. 

He said it is a different mindset being an astronaut because if anything happens to you in space, the only ones who can help you are your crew members. That is why they all undergo medical training, and there is much practicing and rehearsing before the mission takes place. The Artemis II mission is expected to launch no earlier than September of 2025. 

While this will be Hansen’s first mission to space, he said that Canada has had a long history of collaborating and innovating space technology. Examples he gave included the Canadarm 2 and a robot called “Dexter” that is on the International Space Station to make outside repairs without having to do a spacewalk. He said Canada is currently working on a Canadarm 3 as well as lunar rovers and other robotics that can be used on the moon. 

He added that Canada has been a major contributor to the International Space Station with partners from the United States, Russia, the European Space Agency and Japan. 

You can watch Hansen’s entire presentation below: