Canada's first spaceship commander, Colonel Chris Hadfield has some advice for civic leaders regarding the city's stalled space ambitions, "Don't fear failure."
Hadfield, who is bringing his "Canada 151 Tour" to North Bay on February 21 spoke by telephone to BayToday.
He was referring to the failed bid to bring Swiss Space Systems to North Bay, which promised to make space more accessible by creating low-cost, reusable satellite launchers and zero-gravity flights to North Bay.
"If they sound too good to be true, they probably are," Hadfield suggested. "I never really understood their business model so it didn't surprise me that it didn't go the way that they were hoping. It's unfortunate that it didn't, but it's harder than it looks."
The colonel added, that after 21 years as an astronaut, he knows that in order to do something brand new, right on the edge of human experience, it takes vision, inspiration, and a great amount of preparation and planning.
"But it also takes a boldness of execution and an ability to overcome fear. Fear is just a symptom of lack of preparation. The best antidote for fear is competence."
Referring to North Bay, Hadfield says all the raw materials are here to be successful.
"The population base, the economy, the health system, the education system including advanced education...and then it needs someone that has the inspiration, the physical health, mental ability, and training in order to come out the other end, ready to attack new problems."
Hadfield says city leaders need to make sure they do plenty of preparation in advance if they want to successfully enter the space game.
"Anytime you're focusing on things going right, or visualizing success, you're setting yourself up to be disappointed. Things go wrong and that's normal, and in the space business, which is much more unforgiving, we still have things go wrong constantly. But that doesn't mean you quit. If you quit every time things didn't go perfectly then nothing would ever get done. The real key is, how well did you prepare for this attempt.?"
Former MP Jay Aspin sat with Hadfield on the Space Advisory Board and says the astronaut was amazed at the momentum the city had built for space launch facilities in North Bay via Swiss Space Systems, but offered this current analysis.
"We are in jeopardy of losing the momentum entirely as the current member has done little or nothing to keep the momentum going," Aspin said in an email.
"I know there is interest as I am in constant contact with my aerospace and space colleagues. I maintained those contacts while I was Vice Chair of Aerospace and Chair of the Space Caucus and I can assure you the opportunity is there, we just have to show the initiative to go and develop it. I don't see that initiative happening currently. As a result, this could be a lost opportunity through lack of interest or effort.
"The effort with regard to this has been abysmal. Nothing ventured ....nothing gained and certainly, nothing has been gained despite the tremendous opportunity at hand."
"It's amazing what can be done but leadership in this regard in Nipissing is missing. Quite frankly small satellite launch is the wave of the future and we are missing the boat. This is most upsetting after all the groundwork we did from 2012," said Aspin.
Through his 21-years as an astronaut, three spaceflights and 2,600 orbits of Earth, Colonel Hadfield has become a worldwide sensation.
He was the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm in space, and to board a Russian spacecraft as he helped build the space station "Mir." In 2001, Colonel Hadfield was the first Canadian to perform two spacewalks and in 2013 he was the first and only Canadian Commander of the International Space Station. While in orbit he produced what is considered to be the first music video shot in space, a version of David Bowie's Space Oddity, which has been viewed over 16 million times. (See the video at the end of this story)
His North Bay show will include Hadfield sharing a selection of stories, images, songs and ideas about the nation he is so proud to call home. Performing songs like his fun-loving, patriotic single "In Canada," to his evocative "Beyond the Terra" that looks away from the land to the skies, Colonel Hadfield ties his presentation together with stories of great Canadians and tales from his incredible career. More details on the show can be found here.
See Hadfield sing Space Oddity below.