DAVID SAINT-JACQUES

The Cana­dian as­tro­naut on train­ing for life in space, tips from Chris Had­field and why he’s pack­ing a Ru­bik’s Cube.

Air Canada enRoute - - ONE ON ONE / TÊTE-À-TÊTE AVEC - IN­TER­VIEW BY / PROPOS RECUEILLIS PAR KATIE UNDERWOOD IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY / D’ORIANA FENWICK

HOW DO YOU EVEN BE­GIN TO PRE­PARE FOR SPACE TRAVEL?

It’s ev­ery­thing from ath­let­ics to Rus­sian lan­guage train­ing to learn­ing to fly and us­ing the Canadarm. And we have to learn all the emer­gency pro­ce­dures of the space sta­tion and the rocket. All in all, it’s like a mix­ture of get­ting a pi­lot’s li­cence, pub­lic speak­ing and prep­ping for a sports event.

WHAT’S THE PHYS­I­CAL TRAIN­ING LIKE?

Space takes a toll on your body, so you have to be in the best pos­si­ble shape. Your shoul­ders need to be strong just to wear the space­suit. We also train in a cen­trifuge, which sim­u­lates the same g-force that our bod­ies will ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing as­cent and re-en­try. For me, all the phys­i­cal work is re­ally new.

HOW DO YOU PACK FOR SIX MONTHS IN SPACE?

Your suit­case is the size of a shoe­box. You only need to bring per­sonal ef­fects, like a wed­ding ring, or me­men­tos you want from Earth. Ev­ery­thing else, like toi­letries, is stan­dard is­sue. I’m bring­ing some­thing to re­mind me of my chil­dren and my wife, and a Ru­bik’s Cube that my par­ents gave me when I was a kid.

DID COM­MAN­DER HAD­FIELD OF­FER ANY TIPS?

He and Julie Payette have been very gen­er­ous in shar­ing ad­vice with the rook­ies. The most use­ful thing I gleaned from talk­ing to them is that it’s called “hu­man space flight” for a rea­son — you’ve got to be your­self.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOK­ING FOR­WARD TO UP THERE?

See­ing our beau­ti­ful planet float­ing against the black vel­vet of space. Ev­ery­body knows it ex­ists, but few have seen it.

WHAT DO AS­TRO­NAUTS DO IN THEIR SPACE OFF-HOURS, FOR FUN?

Frankly, most peo­ple just look out the win­dow.

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