Chris Hadfield talks space dreams, the environment at Dalhousie University

Haley Ryan
Published on April 7, 2014

Chris Hadfield spoke to students at Dalhousie University April 7 in Halifax.

©Metro Halifax


Hundreds of students at Dalhousie University blasted off into space, dealt with an ammonia leak on a space station, and crashed back down to earth in the span of an hour on Monday.

Chris Hadfield - decorated Canadian astronaut, former commander of the International Space Station and internet sensation -  gave a speech called "The Sky is Not the Limit" to the crowd of students and faculty, who welcomed him with a standing ovation.

Dalhousie raised $93,566 for last year’s Movember campaign, the most money per capita of any Canadian campus, and won a visit from Hadfield who had pledged to speak at the school that raised the most in Movember’s Big Moustache on Campus Network Challenge.

Hadfield talked about his “impossible” dream to become an astronaut when he first saw man walk on the moon when he was nine years old and how he made that dream come true even though Canada had no space program at the time. He had to leave the country for 25 years before space became a reality.

He showed many of the photos he had taken over his six months at the space station and described how that perspective made him see the “fragility” of our world, rather than the immensity of it.

“It affects me,” Hadfield said, looking at a photo of the Bahamas taken from space with all the shades of blue clearly visible and flipping to one of the Australian outback which looked like a modern-art painting thanks to the reds and golds of mountains ground to dust by erosion.

After his speech, Hadfield told reporters he’s not a reminiscing type of guy, and doesn’t really miss weightlessness or anything from his space experience. He said he’s looking forward to teaching in Waterloo and learning more about climate change, archaeology and environmental issues because it seems there’s “a lot of complaints,” but no one knows what to do about it.

The university presented Hadfield with a Dalhousie hoodie and a black ukulele decorated with his astronaut photo.