I was very lucky today to be invited to a lunch at which Commander Chris Hadfield was speaking. I've always been fascinated by space, space flight and exploration, which given that I'm scared of flying is interesting. Actually I'm not scared of flying, I'm scared of not flying...
Chris Hadfield is a world famous test pilot and astronaut who was commander of the International Space Station in 2013. He used social media to really bring the mission alive using Twitter and Facebook, and famously recorded a version of Bowie's Space Oddesey while he was up there.
He's a bit of a hero of mine....
His talk was literally awe inspiring, and was about rising to the challenge. How do you rise to the challenge of getting up one morning knowing that by the end of it you'll either be floating effortlessly round the world, or be dead. Apparently the odds of death during launch in the early days of the space shuttle were 1 in 38.
It was impossible to capture the talk in notes, but here are some snippets and pictures.
Driving to the launchpad of the shuttle in a bus with the other astronauts, with everyone else driving away from it. Basically they are getting as far away as possible from the bomb you're about to sit on.
The spacesuits are huge, and you have to crawl into the shuttle, which has many switches in it. It was built in the 70s with extremely limited computer power - everything had to fit in 128k of memory. So it is mostly manual with 500 switches. If you knock one, you're dead.
As you sit waiting to launch, you think, what's the next thing that could kill us. Be ready for the next threat, ignore what doesn't matter
There's no problem so bad you can't make it worse.
With the flick of a switch a situation can go from bad to dead very quickly
Showed an amazing video of the launch of a shuttle.
It burns 12 tons of fuel per second at lift off and has 80million horsepower. When those solid rocket boosters light, you're going somewhere.
His first simulator:
Give yourself a long term goal, and work out how you're going to get there.
The ISS travels 8km a second and goes round the earth in 92 mins. People have been living in it for 15 years
To cope, you have to Visualise failure. Relentlessly. Then work out what you do.
In space, Earth is just a Helpdesk. (This has to be one of my favourite quotes)
Two things to remember:
All machines eventually break
All simulators are wrong.
Told story of how they spotted a leak in the ISS and realised they were leaking ammonia which cools the station. If they didn't fix it they would have to abandon ship. Normally a space walk takes 8 days of preparation, but they did one with 12 hours notice, and fixed it. Only possible because they had visualised failure so much and prepared for it.
Whilst on ISS he took some remarkable pictures, and he came down into the audience to look at them with us.
Finished with a video of how the they land when they come down in the Soyuz capsule. A very hard landing!
An excellent talk, and I got my picture taken with him later. He told me he'd waved to me every night as the ISS had flown over my house. A charmer as well as a brilliant man!