Later this month Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield will board the Russian Soyuz space shuttle and make his was to his new home, the International Space Station. In March he will become the first Canadian to command a spaceship when takes over leading the crew of the ISS. He will be on the space station for a total of six months.Before he leaves Earth, though, he took time today to do a Reddit AskMeAnything (AMA). He answered a few standard questions first, including this one, about what it feels like to launch into space:
Launch is immensely powerful, and you can truly feel yourself in the centre of it, like riding an enormous wave, or being pushed and lifted by a huge hand, or shaken in the jaws of a gigantic dog. The vehicle shakes and vibrates, and you are pinned hard down into your seat by the acceleration. As one set of engines finishes and the next starts, you are thrown forward and then shoved back. The weight of over 4 Gs for many minutes is oppressive, like an enormous fat person lying on you, until suddenly, after 9 minutes, the engine shut off and you are instantly weightless. Magic. Like a gorilla was squishing you and then threw you off a cliff. Quite a ride :)
He also noted that it’s not possible to pass out during the launch, because you are being pushed into space while lying on your back, so your blood doesn’t end up draining out of your brain. Also, he said it takes about 15 seconds to go from a sunny day to complete darkness.
When asked how it feels to see Earth from space for the first time, he wrote:
It feels like someone’s revealing a secret to you. Like you’re getting to see something magic for the first time. It feels like an honour. Like a huge privilege.
Another gem? His favourite part of being in space:
The best part is being weightless forever. It is like magic. It is like having a superpower where you can fly. You can fly forever.
He also mentioned that you get used to this weightlessness, after being in space for six months, your body feels:
Adapted. You feel like a spaceling. You feel completely normal, and don’t even remember that you’re flying. There is no up or down. You are really no longer an earthling, but a spaceling.
He launches in the Soyuz spacecraft on December 19th. He’s currently in the quarantine facility in Baikonur Kazakhstan, getting ready to launch in less than a week.
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