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Hadfield draws large crowd in new role as Waterloo prof

Dec. 4, 2013, Waterloo, Ont. - Chris Hadfield, famed test pilot of the fastest jets in the world and the only Canadian astronaut to command the International Space Station, took up a new role Tuesday as adjunct professor of aviation at the University of Waterloo.


December 4, 2013
By The National Post

With a reputation that rivals many superheroes, and skills that run
from piloting a “titanium bathtub” on re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere
to an elegant cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” Prof. Hadfield
drew a massive sold-out crowd to the university’s humanities lecture
hall.

 

His new book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, was for
sale in the hallways and the crowd of eager students was buzzing with
anticipation, as he was introduced by Feridun Hamdullaphur, the
university’s president, who had previously introduced him in a video
link with the International Space Station.

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Then there he was, Captain Fantastic himself, now Professor
Fantastic, wiry and energetic, showing no sign of the deleterious
effects of prolonged weightlessness (he has orbited the earth 2500
times) as he bounded onto the stage in all his richly moustachioed
hyper-competence.

 

After sharing his tales of astronautical derring-do and the foibles
of life in a massive tin can (such as his “chafing” diapers with little
pink and blue astronauts on them), his talk focused on the critical
importance to young people of both inspiration and discipline.

 

He credited the air cadets organization with instilling
self-discipline and regard for delayed satisfaction. He described both
education and activism as an organic process, less of a push than a
draw, and said he has devoted his professional life to “letting people
see the parts of opportunity for them that they didn’t know existed for
them before.”

 

He showed a photo of a young girl whose parents let her watch in awe
as Commander Hadfield, as he then was, floated around with a guitar,
singing that famously lonely line, “Ground control to Major Tom.”

 

“Imagine what she sees as normal, what she’s envisaging as
possibilities for her, what she thinks Canadians do,” Prof. Hadfield
said. “It’s an important part of space exploration as well”

 

As adjunct professor of aviation, he will continue to participate in a
study of the physiological effects of weightlessness, and will take up
teaching and advisory roles in the fall of 2014, in both the bachelor of
science and bachelor of environmental studies programs.

 

He is expected to lecture in flight management and human factors in aviation, such as the decision protocols followed by pilots.

 

Prof. Hadfield showed video of his liftoff atop millions of kilograms of high explosive: “It’s quite a ride, really.”

 

He described the initial sensation of weightlessness, the “coolest
thing ever.” “As soon as the engine shuts off after launch, everyone
laughs. A couple minutes later, everyone starts throwing up.”

 

And he showed pictures of re-entry into Kazakhstan, in a capsule at 3,000 degrees C, enduring maybe 5G force.

 

“It’s a wicked ride, like dice in a cup. You’re just laughing because it’s so violent in there.”