Chris Hadfield: Back In Space With A Rockin’ Mission Patch
Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
By AJ Plunkett
Yes, the “Canadian kid” is back in space.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, along with U.S. astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, took off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 19 and arrived two days later at the International Space Station for the start of a six-month visit.
The first half of their mission will be as part of the six-person Expedition 34, while the second half will be as part of the historic Expedition 35. During this time, Hadfield is scheduled to take over on March 14 as the first Canadian commander of the orbiting Earth outpost.
The mission crest for Expedition 34/35 is designed in honor of Hadfield’s achievement, according to the Canadian Space Agency.
Shaped like a guitar pick — a nod to Hadfield’s musical talents — the crest’s dominant feature is an image of the Space Station on a field of blue bordered by a band of red. The living quarters on the Space Station are also in red, to mark the first time a Canadian takes command.
White, silver and red arcs hint at the Earth, Moon, and Mars, and represent the Space Station’s status as a long-running science laboratory that supports experiments and technological innovations in both terrestrial science and space exploration.
Three stars have dual representations for Hadfield, as this is his third trip into space, the others being a shuttle mission to dock with Russia’s Space Station Mir in 1995 and a mission to the ISS in 2001 to help install Canadarm2.
The stars also represent the 53-year-old astronaut’s three children, who apparently inherited their father’s sense of levity. After reporting aboard the Space Station, the newest members of the team contacted their families via video link, during which Hadfield’s oldest son, Kyle, 29, asked his father if he could have a pony for Christmas. Hadfield’s quick reply: “Ask your mother.”
A ring around the stars illustrates the recent discovery of hundreds of other stars, while the azure pool at the point of the crest signifies water. Water is a fundamental basis of life, and Hadfield plans to use part of his time on this mission to highlight the importance of the conservation and management of fresh water resources.
Finally, the astronaut wings at the top of the patch were conferred on a then-Colonel Hadfield by the Prime Minister of Canada in recognition of Hadfield becoming the nation’s first military pilot astronaut.
A lot of national pride is resting on Hadfield’s shoulders, and he knows it. “Yes, I’ll take it seriously,” he told CBC News recently. “And, yes, it’s important for Canada. But for me, as just a Canadian kid, it makes me want to shout and laugh and do cartwheels.”
AJ Plunkett is a freelance writer in Virginia with experience in covering defense and aerospace industries, as well as health care issues. AJ blogs via Contently.com.