The mission to Mars is ready to launch. Taking the navigation helm is Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen.
The medical officer buzzes around, checking the radiation levels of the crew members. The navigation team uses the instruments onboard to chart the best course.
Halfway through the mission, the communication is down. Smoke starts to billow out of the controls. There’s no stopping though. The mission must continue.
Hansen’s team has it under control in moments, even though none of them have even graduated high school yet.
After a half-hour flight, they land.
The communication officer calls the control room back on earth, the mission has been a success.
The mission may have been only a simulation, but the students have gained valuable lessons in teamwork and problem-solving. Skills they can one day use if they ever decide they want to be an astronaut.
For Hansen, getting to space is all about goals, passion and hard work.
He knew he wanted to go to space after seeing a picture of Neil Armstrong on the moon in an encyclopedia. After that, he joined the Air Cadets and trained to become a pilot. Essential to his journey was the support he got from those around him.
“One of the important things in life is setting goals and then sharing those goals with people,” Hansen said. “People will empower you and enable you to start working towards those goals.”
Hansen spoke to a group of 400 students at the Ontario Science Centre on Apr. 6. In the crowd, were students from the Ontario Science School, John Polyani Collegiate Institute and approximately 200 students from Valley Park Middle School in East York.
Justin Reventar, a teacher at Valley Park Middle School, said hearing from a real astronaut was important for the students.
“Any time they can hear from someone who is in the field themselves, I think it’s a great opportunity for inspiration for the students,” he said.
Hansen knows this firsthand. Early in his career, he had an opportunity to speak with another Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield. Hadfield’s advice would help shape his career and ultimately help him become an astronaut.
“The best advice [Hadfield] gave me at the time was ‘Jeremy you need to take the one you’re passionate about. If there’s a certain degree program you’re really interested and you want to follow, that’s what you need to pursue. That’s ultimately what leads you to be successful and position you to do whatever you want to do.’”