Chris Hadfield: The Canadian Who Reached for the Stars and Landed in Space

Posted by Greg Monette on January 15 2014

We often teach children the following clichés: “follow your heart” and “reach for the stars.” However, not many people end up becoming professional athletes, heads of state, or astronauts. There is a certain amount of skepticism in the minds of those who motivate children to aim big because a fraction of those who set wild goals tend to achieve them. That being said, every once in a while one of these wild goal setters actually succeeds.

For Chris Hadfield it was literally impossible for him to accomplish his dreams of being an astronaut when he was a chid. But children don’t care about what is impossible. When Hadfield was a kid growing up on a corn farm in Southern Ontario there was no Canadian Space Agency. This meant that it was impossible for Canadians to go into space. Despite this, from a young age Chris dreamt of being an astronaut who would represent Canada in space. Not only did Hadfield accomplish the impossible, but he has spent over 166 days in space at the International Space Station (ISS). He also served as the commander of the ISS in December of 2012. Colonel Hadfield is an inspiration to anyone who feels they are destined to live an extraordinary life. He didn’t sit around and complain wishing his circumstances were different when he grew up. No, he got his pilots license, joined the Canadian Armed Forces, flew aircraft for the United States Air Force in an international exchange program, and then finally in 1992 was accepted into the Canadian astronaut program by the Canadian Space Agency (formed in 1990). After grueling training he became an astronaut. His first voyage was aboard the STS- 74 in November 1995 as a mission specialist. He did the “impossible” again in April of 2001 when he visited the ISS. On this trip he put on a spacesuit and exited the aircraft in space taking a “spacewalk” to help install the Canadarm2. Then in December of 2012 he was given the extraordinary honour of being named the commander of the International Space Station for 5 months. While leading the crew of the ISS he recorded the first ever music video (covering David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”) from outer space! It has been viewed over 20 million times. Commander Hadfield is also the author of a magnificent book titled An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. My wife Julie and I have autographed copies of this epic story of how a Canadian kid reached for the stars and landed in space.

It was an absolute honour to meet Commander Hadfield in November 29, 2013 at his book signing at Chapters bookstore in Halifax, Nova Scotia just down the road from where my wife and I make home. To shake the hand of the man who has inspired countless Canadians and fellow earthlings to not be afraid to dream big, work really hard, and never let anyone tell them that the “impossible” cannot become “possible,” was a truly special. If the good Lord blesses my wife and I with a brood of children someday, I will not hold back from telling them to “follow their hearts” and to “reach for the stars” for they may fall slightly short and end up in space.

Greg meeting Commander Chris Hadfield at his book signing from Greg Monette on Vimeo.

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