Newsmaker of the day: Chris Hadfield
Mankind made “one giant leap” 45 years ago when the Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and now the next big step for many is Mars. Last week, the spacecraft Orion, which hopes to one day send astronauts to Mars, successfully orbited the Earth twice before landing in the Pacific Ocean during a 4.5-hour test flight. It was considered “Day 1 of the Mars era,” according to a NASA administrator. Meanwhile, the non-profit, privately funded Mars One foundation ambitiously hopes to establish a permanent colony on the Red Planet starting in 2024.
But Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station, says mankind should focus on going back to the moon again, instead of walking on Mars. “If we go to Mars any time soon, everybody would die,” Hadfield told an audience at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Sunday. “We are previous to Franklin in our ability to go to Mars right now,” he added, referencing the ill-fated 1845 expedition into the Northwest Passage, killing Sir John Franklin and his entire team.
When speaking about the Mars One mission with Matter magazine last month, Hadfield had many unanswered questions regarding the specifics of the spacesuits for Mars: How are they pressurized, how are they cooled? “None of that stuff can be bought off the rack. It does not exist,” Hadfield said. “You can’t just go to SpaceMart and buy those things.”
While praising the engineering behind Orion, Hadfield insisted mankind should instead work on building a permanent lunar base. “It just makes sense,” Hadfield told the Guardian. “It is only three days away and we can do so many things.”