Down to Earth with Commander Drew Feustel

Written by Grade 6 students, Emma H. and Rowan P. 

Talking to someone who’s actually in space? What? That’s what some lucky schoolkids, including us, got to do on Friday, September 21st, when we chatted with ISS Commander, Drew Feustel only two weeks before he returns to Earth after spending half-a-year in low-Earth orbit.

The video chat was an event sponsored by Actua, the Embassy of the United States of America, and others who are helping get youth interested in STEM fields. (If you are not aware, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.)

To start off the convention, we spoke with an amazing panel of men and women including: the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft; the President and CEO of Actua, Jennifer Flanagan; Drew Feustel’s wife, Indra Feustel; the first Canadian in space and the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau; and the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, the Honourable Navdeep Bains.

Grade 6 students Avery P. and Emma B. with the first Canadian in space and the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau.

They answered questions about experiences they’ve had and spoke about the first tennis game that just went on in space, and best of all, they spoke about the importance of getting youth interested in STEM fields as they will be the leaders of our tomorrow. 

After we had spoken to this amazing panel, we commenced our Skype chat with Commander Drew Feustel, who is both American and a Canadian. Before the convention had begun, students and adults were able to submit questions they would like to ask Commander Feustel, and Emma was able to ask her question! Her question was “What do astronauts do for fun in space?”

Commander Feustel was able to answer many questions (including Emma’s) and he even had time to show us a couple tricks he could do in space, such as spinning and flipping in the air, and drinking water in small puddles. It was fascinating! He also shared with us the three things he misses most (besides his family): sleeping in a bed, the smell of rain, and the feel of grass on his feet.

We had just ended our Skype with Commander Feustel, and we thought the fun was over, but no! We go to talk to the Honourable Marc Garneau and ask him some questions! Mr. Garneau told us about his last mission and how he had been trained as the mission’s unofficial doctor, in case any astronauts were injured or sick. He said that he would have been able to draw blood, freeze and remove a tooth, and perform a tracheostomy! 

Commander Feustel will be returning to Earth on October 4th but before leaving the ISS, he recorded a music video, just like Chris Hadfield did when he was in command of the space station. Watch him perform one of the Tragically Hip’s classic songs!