Chris Hadfield lands on campus

Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield thinks today’s college students might need to beef up their long distance calling packages – because he says living on the moon is a real possibility.

“Some of you folks are going to have the opportunity in your lives to live on the moon,” Hadfield told a crowd of almost 1,000 at Durham College and UOIT Jan 11.

“To go live in a permanent human outpost on the moon. Maybe even as far as Mars in your lifetime.”

With 166 days spent outside the Earth’s atmosphere, Hadfield’s resume is not shy of accomplishments.

He partook in three different missions to space in 1995, 2001 and 2012. He served as Commander of the International Space Station (ISS) from December 2012 until May, 2013.

On top of this, Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space.

The Student Association announced Hadfield would be coming to campus just before the winter break. Through social media promotion, they sold more than 900 advanced tickets with the rest sold at the door on the night of the event.

Hadfield believes incredible achievements are only possible if people allow themselves to dream big.

“The only way you can do impossible things,” Hadfield told the crowd, “is to imagine something crazy, and then start changing what you’re doing so that you can learn about it enough that it can be part of what becomes normal.”

Since retiring from the astronaut life in June of 2013, Hadfield has gone on to become a national bestselling author, a top ten recording artist and a coveted public speaker.

The famed former astronaut brought stories of experience and expertise with him to educate and inspire students.

Growing up in southern Ontario, Hadfield found himself inspired by the fantasy of Star Trek, as well as the reality of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July of 1969.

“On the morning of July 20, it was impossible to walk on the moon,” Hadfield said. “Nobody had ever done it. But by bedtime on July 20, Neil (Armstrong) and Buzz (Aldrin) had made all those footprints. That was now something that was possible.

“It’s really liberating to realize that impossible things happen.”

From his time with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the 90s to performing at a David Bowie anniversary in New York City earlier this month, Hadfield has experienced things that many can only dream about.

As he described the process of launch and exiting the Earth’s atmosphere, the audience was captivated.

“After eight minutes and 42 seconds the engines shut off,” Hadfield said, “you’re at the right height, speed and direction and the engines shut off. And you’re weightless.”

He paused for a second, and you could hear a pin drop.

Hadfield filled an hour and a half with anecdotes of his life and a wealth of knowledge on the past, present and future of space exploration.

Hadfield closed his talk by performing bits of an original from his 2015 album and David Bowie’s Space Oddity, which he famously covered aboard the ISS.

Hadfield performed a bit of a mashup, featuring his original song 'ISS (Is Somebody Singing?)' and David Bowie's 'Space Oddity'
Hadfield performed a bit of a mashup, featuring his original song ‘ISS (Is Somebody Singing?)’ and David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’

After the conclusion of his performance, nearly all the people in attendance lined up for a chance to shake hands and take a picture with the first Canadian to walk in space, as well as get a book signed. Hadfield stayed until he had the chance to meet them all.

Johnny Humphrey, the SA’s campus life coordinator, played a big role in organizing Hadfield’s speaking engagement on campus.

“The SA is really happy with how it turned out,” Humphrey says. “We received a lot of positive feedback.”

Hadfield has taken his public speaking across the pond, where he will finish the month touring Ireland and the UK.

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Travis Fortnum is a second-year journalism student. He has a love for politics and is passionate about covering campus news, community events, and sports. Aside from the Chronicle, his stories have been featured in the Oshawa This Week, Brooklin Town Crier, Whitby Snap'd and on