MONTREAL – Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is having a hard time getting around on terra firma after spending five months floating around the International Space Station.
Raffi Kuyumjian, the Canadian Space Agency’s chief medical officer and Hadfield’s flight surgeon, says the three-time space traveller currently feels like an old man.
The CSA issued an update on the health of the 53-year-old space veteran Wednesday, two days after his return to Earth.
Kuyumjian described some of the temporary problems Hadfield is dealing with as he readjusts to gravity. They include shuffling his feet when he walks, soreness in his back, difficulty walking around corners and sometimes even bumping into corners.
The physician said in a statement that his patient feels dizzy and finds it challenging to walk up or down stairs. Also, his manual dexterity is a bit off.
“Although he does not feel it, his hip and back bones are not as dense as before his flight since they lost calcium in weightlessness,” Kuyumjian said.
“This is similar but not as severe as the osteoporosis that affects the elderly, since Chris will likely recover most of that bone density loss in about a year.”
Hadfield’s experience will help collect data in the hope of better understanding and treating such effects, which are common in the aging population.
His doctor said Hadfield is looking forward to the rejuvenating process of returning to gravity over the coming weeks and months.
Hadfield, who is now in Houston for tests and debriefings, will meet the media Thursday for the first time since his return to Earth this week.
He will be talking to reporters by way of a video conference downlinked to the Canadian Space Agency and broadcast on its website.
Hadfield announced Wednesday that his use of social media, which earned him an international audience, won’t end with his return to Earth.
“I took a few thousand more photos in space than I was able to post,” he told his Twitter followers.
“I’ll try to update from here on out with at least one per day.”
He had 20,000 Twitter followers when he blasted off with Russian space colleague Roman Romanenko and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn on Dec. 19, 2012. Upon his return to Earth this week, Hadfield was hovering around one million followers.