Unidentified Male: Okay, we’re ready Dave, hang on tight.
Unidentified Male: Great!
Unidentified Male: A panoramic view of Dave Williams as he is being maneuvered on the Canadarm 2. He is the third Canadian to walk in space joining Chris Hadfield and Steve MacLean.
Jeremy Hansen: The spacewalk is one of the most demanding tasks for an astronaut. It requires physical strength, concentration, years of training and a complete understanding of how the International Space Station operates. Hi, I’m Jeremy Hansen. The Canadian Space Agency’s Astronaut Recruitment Campaign is underway and the second round of selections is now complete. The 32 remaining candidates were put through emergency simulations designed to test their resilience and their ability to think and react under pressure.
Unidentified Female: Okay, listen up. Mission control has just warned that there are fires and potential water damage up ahead.
Unidentified Male: Find the source of the smoke let’s huttle!
Jeremy Hansen: These evaluations help determine if the candidates can handle intense situations in challenging environments similar to those encountered in space.
Unidentified Female: Four leaks.
Unidentified Male: We got 1, 2, 3, we can use a wedge.
Jeremy Hansen: As the candidates went through these various scenarios they needed to exhibit abilities like problem solving, dexterity, coordination, leadership and of course team spirit.
Unidentified Female: First we tie on this side and on that side and then we put the elastic band around it.
Unidentified Male: Sweep with your arms, sweep with your arms.
Unidentified Male: Oh, here’s one.
Jeremy Hansen: These abilities combined with sheer determination are what is needed for space flight. In the harsh environment of space the ability to adapt and find creative solutions under pressure is crucial.
Dave Williams: As astronauts we spend thousands of hours planning and training in countless simulations that prepare us for just about anything on a space mission. But you never really know what to expect until you get there. Space is a compelling and sometimes hostile environment, a zero fault tolerant environment where errors can have catastrophic consequences.
On my first spacewalk astronaut Rick Mastracchio and I talked a lot about what would happen when we exited the air lock to see this compelling view looking 400 kilometres down to the surface of the earth. No-one wants to become frozen holding onto the handrails while they’re getting their bearings.
Unidentified Male: Okay Dave, if you’re ready I’ll give the Canadian man a ride on the Canadian arm.
Unidentified Male: Gee thanks!
Dave Williams: I remember on my second spacewalk being on the end of the Canadarm pointing straight out into space, hovering 400 kilometres over the earth by myself. I couldn’t see the Space Station behind me and it took me a minute or so to relax, to take a couple of deep breaths and enjoy the view.
Unidentified Male: ETC… coming in.
Unidentified Female: Copy.
Unidentified Male: I think with this run the training we got has really paid off.
Unidentified Female: I couldn’t agree more guys.
Dave Williams: The complexity of the tasks we perform often take us to the limits of our abilities.
Unidentified Male: Using any means available make your way into the raft.
Unidentified Female: Okay, so our task is to move the isotopes, all the balls from point A to point B.
Dave Williams: Astronauts need to have the technical and the team skills to be able to succeed.
Unidentified Female: Sorry guys.
Unidentified Male: We were on to something there.
Dave Williams: They also need to have focus and situational awareness to prevent, anticipate and manage any adverse events that may happen. How you handle an emergency in space can mean the difference between life and death for yourself and the crew.
Unidentified Male: We need to speed up guys, we need to speed up!
Unidentified Female: There’s a fire in here guys!
Dave Williams: At this stage of the selection process, some of these emergency situations have no real solution and can push the candidates to their breaking point. When I went through these simulations back in 2009 the emergencies felt very realistic and so did the sense of urgency and pressure.
Unidentified Male: You got to use your reach, use your reach!
Dave Williams: We were fighting fires in full bunker gear. It was sort of like doing a cardio workout where you’re trying to put out flames and your body temperature just keeps rising and rising.
Unidentified Male: Fire is down the hall.
Dave Williams: Then moments later you have to try to contain a flood in frigid cold water while your hands are cramping up and your body temperature starts to plummet. We were put in situations as a team where there was no clear path forward, no obvious answer. That is the reality of an astronaut’s job.
Unidentified Male: All exercises must be done in cadence. Go up and down together.
All: One, up, two, up, three, up, four.
Dave Williams: These candidates need to keep their cool, follow procedures and find creative solutions.
Unidentified Male: Look what we do with three. You can take them off.
Unidentified Female: (Whispers) Oh, you guys are brilliant.
Dave Williams: Most importantly they need to work as a team and persevere. It’s an important milestone on the road to finding out who will be the next Canadian astronauts.