Famous Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield Offers Self-Isolation Tips During Coronavirus Pandemic

Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut who’s using his experience working in the International Space Station to offer advice to the world as it deals with times of quarantine.

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Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut who’s always had an extreme passion for sharing his extensive knowledge with the public on all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Now, Hadfield is using his experience from spending weeks at a time in the International Space Station to offer advice to the world as it deals with self-isolation and quarantine during this time of a global pandemic.

Hadfield was originally born in Ontario, Canada, and as a child, he would always say that he wanted to be an astronaut, unlike most of us, he actually followed through. Raised on a farm, Hadfield always knew he wanted to do something adventurous with his life. 

“My father was an airline pilot, so we traveled more spontaneously than a lot of families. On a Thursday, we could decide to go somewhere like Barbados the next day for a long weekend.”

He became an accomplished skier by the time he was a teenager, and at the age of 15 he won a glider pilot scholarship to follow his true passion of flying. Hadfield still had the dream of becoming an astronaut, however, at the time Canada didn’t offer any sort of astronaut training programs to pursue, so instead, he did the next best thing and joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1978. He spent four years at Military College where he eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Throughout the 1980’s, he worked as a fighter pilot for Canada and the United States, during which he spent a lot of time performing research work for NASA.

By the 1990’s, Hadfield had already flown over 70 kinds of air crafts, so when Canada was finally ready to start a new astronaut program, it was a no-brainer that he’d be chosen out of 5,300 people to become one of four Canadian astronauts in 1992. The Canadian Space Agency stationed him at NASA’s Johnson Space Agency in Texas, which soon made him a key part to both Canada, and America’s space programs.

“Ever since I was nine years old and I watched Neil and Buzz walk on the moon, I felt passionately that this is an interesting human adventure. This is really fundamentally important, as we leave our home planet, but also exciting. I’ve had a chance to see something that is way outside everybody else’s frame of reference and gives a perspective that is very different from everyone else’s.”

Hardfield became an integral part of the United States and Canadian space programs in 1992, and within two decades he became known worldwide. During his time there he worked as the voice for mission control, supported multiple shuttle space launches at the Kennedy Space Center, and also served as a director of operations for NASA while stationed in Russia. 

Beyond his behind-the-scenes work, Hardfield also was involved in several space missions. His first mission lasted for 11 days, during which he went to the International Space Station, becoming the first Canadian astronaut to do so. 

In December of 2012, he spent another five months in space, and during that time he took to social media platform Twitter to talk about his everyday life in the International Space Station. During the mission, Hardfield was joined by two other astronauts, and he spent his days offering insight into what life was like in space, while also sharing spectacular images of the universe with his growing following. 

His social media following grew exponentially during this time, especially considering back in 2012, Twitter was really rising in terms of popularity and engagement. Before he returned from his five-month journey, his teenage son, Evan, helped produce and edit a video using footage from his dad’s trip. The video was a music-video tribute to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and gained more than 7 million views within a few days. At the time, even David Bowie was floored by the video, stating that “It’s possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created”

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“To be able to command the space station, yes, it’s professional, and yes, I take it seriously, and yes, it’s important for Canada, but for me, as just a Canadian kid, it makes me want to shout and laugh and do cartwheels. Spacewalking trumps everything. Viscerally, it is a phenomenal place to be; to be able to glance right and see the world, glance left and see the universe, and realize for a moment that you’re holding on to your known existence with one hand. That’s the thing.”

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Now, Hardfield is using his massive following, vast knowledge of the universe/all things STEM-related, and entertaining personality to offer up advice on how to cope with the coronavirus pandemic and staying quarantined and separated from society for long-periods of time. As an astronaut who’s spent multiple months in isolation, he’s definitely qualified for the job. 

Hardfied took to his YouTube channel to offer some advice on the best ways to cope with self-isolation. His calming presence and comforting “everything will be alright” demeanor makes his videos and advice easy to watch, while also giving solid information on how to spend time alone and cope with times of uncertainty and mental stress. 

His initial piece of advice is to understand the actual risk of what we’re dealing with, and not take it lightly. Coming to terms with the severity of a situation is never easy, especially when that situation involves a worldwide pandemic affecting millions, however, understanding this new reality prevents things like panic buying and mobbed stores. Stay informed by watching the news and get the facts from trustworthy unbiased sources, and then log off so you don’t get too overwhelmed. 

Secondly, Hardfield says while in isolation, it’s important to figure out “what your objective is going to be.” Hardfield said that the fact that he always had a direct mission and purpose for being in space for extended periods of time is what eased a lot of his anxiety regarding being launched into the universe for months at a time. Try to maintain somewhat of a normal routine, and practice staying distanced from the general public while practicing good hygiene. Create some goals for yourself beyond just working remotely to give yourself something to strive for. 

Finally, Hardfield states that once you accept this new reality that the planet is currently enduring and set some goals for yourself, you can get to work. There are countless projects and distractions that will not only occupy your time, but engage your mind, body, and soul in something that feels truly fulfilling. So instead of sitting back and binge-watching another season of that reality show that’s been keeping you sane for the past few weeks, check your list of things to do and accomplish one of your quarantine goals, and that’s a direct order from the first Canadian astronaut to go to space.

Eric Mastrota

Contributing Editor

Eric Mastrota graduated with a degree in English, Creative Writing, and Journalism. His goal is to create content that readers find entertaining, informative and most importantly, beneficial.