Conversation in Space With Astronaut Chris Hadfield

Kevin Veloso - 4C Software
Posted on: February 27, 2013

Chris Hadfield poses in the International Space Station while showing his Waterloo pride
(Image: netnewsledger.com)

On Friday, February 15, 2013 at 11:30 AM, the University of Waterloo hosted “Conversation in Space” in Hagey Hall featuring astronaut Chris Hadfield, known as the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space. Hadfield was onboard the International Space Station (ISS) during the live video downlink. The broadcast of the video downlink was held in the Humanities Theatre, where they projected the live video stream from space for the students, faculty, and space-fanatics in the audience. The video projection was accompanied by a live Twitter feed of people tweeting about the event using the #AskHadfield hashtag. The video downlink was also streamed online via live webcast. The University of Waterloo is the first university to participate in the video downlink connection from the ISS, as well as the first university to collaborate on research with Hadfield while aboard the ISS.

Prior to the downlink, the event featured Jeremy Hansen, an astronaut from the Canadian Space Agency. Hansen was present at the event in-person, and talked about his experiences as an astronaut. He also provided an overview of Expedition 34, the current expedition aboard the ISS, as well as a preview of Expedition 35 where Chris Hadfield will be in command, the first Canadian astronaut to take command of the ISS. Also prior to the downlink, Dr. Richard Hughson from the faculty of Applied Health Sciences gave a presentation on his research and collaboration work with Hadfield on the ISS. Hughson’s research looks into the zero-gravity effects on the human circulatory system. Hughson is also examining Hadfield’s blood pressure to look into effects that zero-gravity has on his body, hopefully to find out why astronauts are prone to fainting within several hours of returning from space after an extended stay in space.

During the live video downlink, sixteen students from all six faculties on campus, ranging from undergraduates to Ph.Ds, lined up on stage with prepared questions for the astronauts. Adam Klett, a 4B Mechanical student, represented the Faculty of Engineering at the event. Unfortunately, the video downlink was cut off just before Klett had an opportunity to ask his question to Hadfield. The remaining students had their questions facilitated by Jeremy Hansen after the end of the video downlink. Hansen proceeded to take questions from the audience after the remaining students’ questions were answered. It was interesting to note Hadfield’s presentation during the downlink, taking advantage of the zero-gravity environment on the ISS to keep the microphone afloat, freeing his hands and demonstrating some of the tools and equipment he uses onboard the ISS for research and maintenance.

Some questions asked by Hadfield were regarding his experience in space, such as the Internet aboard the ISS, as well as the sights and photos he has taken from space. Hadfield has been using Twitter while in space, although he describes the Internet as operating “really slowly, if at all”. The Internet connection onboard sends radio signals to a computer in Houston, effectively mirroring the space signals to a ground connection. Hadfield has been known to tweet with fellow Canadian William Shatner who played Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series.

This event brought all six faculties from the University of Waterloo together to celebrate the accomplishments of Canadian astronauts and to highlight Waterloo professors on their research being collaborated on and performed aboard the ISS. You can follow Chris Hadfield on Twitter as @Cmdr_Hadfield, where he tweets regularly and posts photos he takes from space. You can also find the video of the downlink at new.livestream.com/itmsstudio