Setting the scene:
On Wednesday, 6 April, an astronaut visited Marc Garneau CI (and no, it wasn’t Marc Garneau). After a presentation at the nearby Ontario Science Centre, soon-to-be space voyageur Jeremy Hansen dropped by the Space Resource Centre to give MGCI a presentation of its own. By Period 3, select students with colorful wristbands (primarily consisting of ninth grade classes and previous earth and space students) were ushered into the cafeteria.
The event began with Lieutenant Colonel Hansen describing his passion for aviation, his inspiration for pursuing a career in space science, and his education and career path. Raised near London, Ontario, Hansen joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, where he earned both his glider and private pilot licences. He explained how the program forced him to step out of his comfort zone and embrace positions of leadership. After graduating from the Royal Military College, Hansen flew as a CF-18 fighter pilot at various locations across Canada. Along the way, he received some helpful advice from his mentor, Chris Hadfield. Hansen furthered his childhood dream by becoming one of two recruits selected through the third Canadian Astronaut Recruitment Campaign. While waiting for his next assignment, Hansen kept busy by working at Capcom at NASA’s Mission Control Center, participating in geological expeditions to the Arctic and in the European Space Agency’s CAVES program. “We lived underground for a week,” he explained. “It taught me to make life or death decisions under high pressure.” Hansen continues to train for his next trip.
Question and Answer Session:
After discussing his own experiences, Hansen then answered questions from the audience. Ten pre-selected students lined up to ask questions that they had submitted earlier. Questions varied from what the future would bring, to his experiences underground, to the rigor of his training. All in all, the students’ favorite answer was in response to a question about the best advice he could give them. “I liked the pictures he showed us, how he told us his journey to become an astronaut,” commented attendee Michael Ng, “But most importantly, he told us to believe in ourselves in whatever we do.”
Jeremy Hansen had said, “The greatest gift I was ever given was to believe in myself.” Clearly, that advice worked for him.
Hafsah Sheikh, a Grade 12 astronomy student said, “I think it was pretty interesting to learn about the various techniques used to train the astronauts. Also, Jeremy Hansen provided us with really good insight into Canada’s significant contributions towards space exploration. All in all, it was informative and really fun!” Saurav Luthra in Grade 11 had a similar opinion: “Jeremy Hansen’s visit to our school was very inspiring, interesting, and encouraging. I was given the privilege to ask Mr. Hansen questions about his undersea training mission and the future of commercial space travel, and he did not fail to provide an exhilarating and captivating answer.”
Students’ Favorite Part:
Two elements of Hansen’s presentation were particularly noteworthy. The first was a picture of Neil Armstrong on the moon, which was what first inspired Hansen to someday fly to space. The second was a video of the Earth, shot from the International Space Station. The Northern Lights and man-made lights intermingled, giving the audience a space station’s eye view of the earth.
Jeremy Hansen’s presentation was out of this world.