Behind the Scenes

Team work is an intricate part of every space mission. Behind every astronaut are hundreds of people, in many countries and organizations, who work hard behind the scenes to support the crew. Some of these people, who devote themselves to the success of the mission, will be profiled in this page periodically.

From the Desk of Astronaut Jeremy Hansen

Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Astronaut Jeremy Hansen is assigned as Crew Support Astronaut for his colleague Chris Hadfield's upcoming mission. It represents a great learning opportunity and a privilege for a rookie astronaut. Jeremy explains to us what this assignment is all about.

Jeremy Hansen poses with veteran astronaut Chris Hadfield on April 6, 2011 while getting ready for spacewalk training in NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. While underwater, Hadfield was on hand in an adjacent control room to monitor Hansen's progress and offer his advice. (Credit: NASA)

As a Crew Support Astronaut I represent and support the team members of Expeditions 33/34/35 in several ways.

The training leading up to a six month long-duration mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is very intense. It spans a period of time greater than two years and much of it involves training abroad. It's a demanding schedule, so a Crew Support Astronaut is tasked with becoming familiar with all of the details of the crew's mission and the manner in which they intend to approach their various challenges. For instance, I represent the crew when they are not available and attend the many meetings required to coordinate the supporting efforts that make spaceflight possible.

Chris Hadfield and Jeremy Hansen in front of the Soyuz simulator in Star City, Russia, in September 2011. (Credit: CSA)

Jeremy Hansen in the Soyuz simulator in Star City, Russia. A tight fit! (Credit: CSA)

In addition to representing the crew, the highlights for me include preparing to be one of the CAPCOMs (voice link to the crew) who will guide them during their mission. I am also very interested in the planning we are undertaking to complete EVAs (Extra-vehicular activity, otherwise called a spacewalk) during the expedition. In order to thoroughly understand the dynamics of a spacewalk and plan accordingly, I carry out simulated EVAs in NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL), the large training pool at the Johnson Space Center in Houston which contains a mock up of the Space Station. This will give me the insight and experience to provide better assistance and guidance over the radio during the actual spacewalks.

For a rookie astronaut, being a Crew Support Astronaut provides an excellent opportunity to prepare for future voyages into space that I will one day embark upon.

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