David Saint-Jacques is scheduled to visit the International Space Station (ISS) this November and is already two-thirds of the way in his training.
The 47-year-old will be the first Canadian aboard the ISS since Chris Hadfield spent five months aboard the station in 2013.
While attending a youth robotics competition in Montreal on Saturday he talked about robotics and his ongoing space training. He was eagerly checking out the talents of the next generation of scientists. He spent time touring and chatting with the mostly teen-aged participants and took in the competition, where student-designed robots raced to pick up and place bright yellow cubes as rock music blared.
Saint-Jacques told reporters that robotics are Canada’s main contribution to space flight and he’s happy to see that innovation continue in the next generation.
He said there’s always a chance one of the students could design the next Canadarm — the country’s famous now-retired robotic contribution to space flight — but even if they don’t, they’re still learning.
He compared the students’ hard work to his own preparation to go to space, adding that for the moment, he was more focused than excited.
“(They students) were eager to get ready for the big day, and that’s the shoes I’m in,” he said.
The Canadian astronaut said he has already completed the theoretical aspects of the training is currently going through simulations and practicing the scientific experiments he will be performing at the ISS during his stay. By the time he leaves Earth, the Quebecer will have undergone intense training, including time in the microgravity simulator.
“I’m in the very practical part of my training, where we’re learning to react to every emergency situation available,” he said in a brief interview. “It’s a bit like the launch ramp is at the summit of Mount Everest, and I’m at about the two-thirds mark of climbing Everest.”