CAF Story: LCol Jeremy Hansen: ‘My path to the stars’ #MyCAFStory

Video / September 30, 2016


One of the things that has really prepared me for the role is that I have been challenged, repeatedly. And there are so many different facets in the Royal Canadian Air Force, my career as a fighter pilot, that have challenged me. Taking the step from smaller aircraft to actually flying a CF-18 was a tremendous amount of work. Putting in long days, studying, mentally preparing myself for any given flight, practicing it. And ultimately those are skill sets that I will use aboard the International Space Station as a Canadian astronaut.

I’m Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremy Hansen, an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency and serving member of the Royal Canadian Air Force.   

I was inspired at a very early age to be a space explorer. I looked at images of humans standing on the moon, I thought, wow I would love to do that. And after I went to an air show I saw the RCAF planes flying, the CF-18 flying an air show, I thought, I would love to do that! That is my path to the stars.

So I ended up being very motivated to be a fighter pilot. And I started looking at the options: how does one become a fighter pilot? And it seemed that you needed a degree. And so Royal Military College seemed like a great way to do it. It’s fully funded, it’s a scholarship, basically you get paid to go to school, and it’s very challenging. One of the toughest things I’ve done, but I learned a lot and that ultimately built me and prepared me for a career in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

When an astronaut goes out on their first space walk, it is a significant event. It’s one of the most challenging things we do; it’s definitely among the most risky things that we do as well. And so there’s definitely a lot of training and preparation to get you ready. But nothing can quite get you ready, from what I’ve been told, for when you first float out the airlock hatch, and the hatch actually points down at the surface of the earth. And so as you come out the hatch, you will have the sensation that you are going to fall off the Space Station all the way down to the planet. And so a lot of astronauts will tell you that it’s hard to let go of that first hand rail. You know, you have a death grip on it, like you’re squeezing the paint out of it, because you don’t want to fall down to the planet. And you just have to talk yourself through it mentally, and say ‘no, I’m not going to fall, I’m in a zero gravity environment and I’ll be ok’.

There’ll be an element of fear, but that’s kind of the regime we learned to work in.

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