• Photo: NASA
    Photo: NASA
  • Photo: NASA
    THE ARMS RACEGoing where no Canadian had gone, Chris Hadfield, feet affixed to the original Canadarm, installs Canadarm2 to the ISS in 2001. Spacewalks usually take up to six hours; on his first walk, Hadfield was in space a gruelling, and eventful, seven hours. “When I first left the hatch and looked out on Earth, I was in awe. It was stupefyingly beautiful. Then I experienced a brief case of vertigo, when I was stationary and Africa went by. Overall, it was a very difficult operation. Early on, there was oily water floating in my spacesuit, which blinded me for about 30 minutes. I also had a problem screwing bolts onto Canadarm2, and we had to develop a work-around. Working in the spacesuit is quite noisy, between the communications from the ground and the sound of your own breathing. By the time I was finished, I was totally enervated.” (Photo: NASA)
  • Photo: NASA
    WIRED FOR A WALKMinutes before his spacewalk, Hadfield is fitted with sensors that will measure oxygen levels during his arduous activity outside the protective confines of the ISS. Behind Hadfield looms his spacesuit. “This suit weighs more than me. It’s like a miniature spaceship, with its own life-support system, including temperature control, a pressurized environment and communications.” (Photo: NASA)
  • Photo: NASA
    POT LUCK WITH A KICKCrews of the ISS and space shuttle dig in to a smorgasbord featuring North American, Asian, European and Russian comfort foods. Cables hold the cantilevered table in place, while food packets and tins are fastened down with Velcro. In the middle of the table, a Swiss Army knife floats at the end of a rope. “We all bring food from our own countries. The Russians, for example, eat a lot of fish. Those tins at the head of the table held some French food. In this environment, the fluids in your body float upwards, causing your head to swell and impairing your sense of taste. So my favourite food at the ISS is something spicy, like Hawaiian chicken. I also really enjoy hot lemonade.” (Photo: NASA)
  • Photo: NASA
    Photo: NASA

Orbiting some 370 kilometres above Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) is a research facility being developed by the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. In this cozy aerie a football field long, a small, regularly changing crew of astronauts spends months at a time building the station and conducting experiments. It is a quirky place in which to live and work, and who better to offer an insider’s view than Chris Hadfield? The Sarnia, Ont., native has twice travelled into space: in 1995 on a shuttle mission to the Russian space station Mir and in 2001 to the ISS, during which he became the first Canadian to perform a spacewalk. In December 2012, Hadfield will have another honour: he’ll become the first Canadian to command the ISS during a six-month mission.

TIED TO BE FIT
In a makeshift gym on board the ISS, Hadfield’s colleague, American astronaut T.J. Creamer, is harnessed to the floor as he works out on a treadmill. “We exercise two hours a day, seven days a week. It’s not only for cardiovascular fitness. Scientists are collecting information on physiological changes to learn more about what it’ll take to prepare astronauts for even longer journeys to Mars. Notice the towel above T.J’s head. In zero gravity, perspiration floats off the body rather than dripping down, so we have to constantly towel off.” (Photo: NASA)