Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Not a space oddity

An afternoon with Colonel Chris Hadfield, National Space Centre, Leicester. October 2016.

After the joys of meeting and hearing the Kelly brothers at the weekend we were on the road again to meet another astronaut - this time the Canadian Chris Hadfield.

We got to the National Space Centre in plenty of time and had a little look around before the event - yesterday however it was full of school children (all of whom seemed to be inspired and enjoying themselves) and so we let them explore and retreated to the quieter areas before heading into the Sir Patrick Moore planetarium for what had been advertised as a q&a with Chris Hadfield.

We were however thoroughly spoilt as we got a wonderful talk and slide show from Hadfield. he has a great sense of humour and this came through in the anecdotes he told and the slides he showed - from the space heroes he thought he'd emulate to the little boy sitting in a box pretending to fly! I'm not sure what the Space Centre team thought of his demonstrations of how water behaves however...

After the talk there was time for questions and again these were answered with great thoughtfulness. He made sure that the children in the audience got to speak as well and again deflected some of the more 'interesting' questions with great humour.

After the talk we also had tickets to the signing session and here we were really surprised and impressed.  Chris Hadfield wasn't sat behind a table just signing but was wandering around and really chatting to everyone who was getting a book signed.  Mum got to ask him about boredom - and again he said that you can't be bored in space (before adding that there are only boring people not boring things!) before signing her book, shaking her hand and giving her a hug. I'm not sure she's stopped smiling yet!

My question was something that occurred to me at the Kelly talk when they talked about their medical training as astronauts. I was reminded of this when Chris Hadfield took a break in signing to talk about his medical training - how would you give CPR in space with no gravity to hold the giver in place and apply the pressure.  Apparently there are two ways. Both people are strapped down, the giver by the thighs, so that the compressions can be given. The alternative is to put your feet on the ceiling and push down on to the unwell person.  After this I also got a handshake and hug so like mum I've also got a silly grin on my face.

This was a great afternoon, and it was so nice to find that Colonel Hadfield is as nice in person as he seems on screen and page. I'm now off to re-read his autobiography.

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