Friday, December 4, 2009

Beyond The Robotic Arm


Longtime blog reader and friend Michael Mathews of San Francisco sent me a link to a great podcast he subscribes to in Vancouver, as posted on the The Early Edition from CBC radio British Columbia.

Host Rick Clough interviewed Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield about how he helped "de-space" fellow astronaut Bob Thirsk after he landed at Star City in Russia, following 6 months on the International Space Station, where he had celebrated his 56th birthday.

Canadian Astronauts
Canadian Astronauts Bob Thirsk & Chris Hadfield

This extended expedition gave him more time in space than any other Canadian, and according to The Canadian Press, the New Westminster native says he’s already hoping to return.

The podcast is still featured on the front page of the Early Edition website, and here is also a direct link to the recording (running time 7:54 minutes). Definitely worth a listen!

Hadfield discusses symptoms associated with blood pressure, muscles, skeleton and the balance system, emphasizing that the human body is "a tremendous laboratory" when you remove gravity. I also found it quite humorous that the first thing the returned astronaut wanted was chocolate!

Canadian Space Agency
Bob Thirsk & Julie Payette of STS-127

In comments provided by the Canadian Space Agency, located near Montreal, Thirsk himself describes what it’s like to land after fulfilling his dream of a long-duration space mission:

"Imagine being stuffed into a Volkswagen Beetle, going for a ride on a roller-coaster, going to a laser light show and riding on the back of a bucking bronco. Combine all these things together, multiply by 10 and that's what it's like to land."

His mission also marked the first time multiple Canadians shared time in space, first when he was visited by fellow astronaut Julie Payette in July, and later when he greeted Canada's first space tourist, Guy Laliberte.

Thirsk also said it was difficult when he stood up for the first time and felt the effects of Earth’s gravity after disembarking the spacecraft: "I felt like I had 200 pounds on my shoulders and I was doing an exercise in a gym. The dizziness is significant. It felt like someone was moving the floor on me all the time."

Hey, I remember that feeling! Scott, brace yourself!! ;)