MONTREAL — Retired Canadian spaceman Bob Thirsk asks himself a couple of simple questions when sizing up people who tell him they want to become an astronaut.

The first is whether he could see himself getting along with the person for six months in orbit and the other is whether he could trust them with his life.

“Would I enjoy spending a long period of time … with this person? If I can say yes, I will go on and consider that person as a potential candidate,” Thirsk, who was selected as an astronaut in 1983, told The Canadian Press.

The fourth recruitment process is currently underway as Canada looks to double its astronaut corps this summer with the addition of two new members.

The field has been reduced from 3,772 to 32, including 11 women. A further cut will be announced by Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains in Toronto on Monday.

Those still remaining include engineers, Canadian Forces personnel, doctors, university professors and pilots.

Thirsk, who holds the Canadian record for most time spent in space with more than 200 days, says some stereotypical Canadian traits come in handy for potential astronauts: politeness, diplomacy and mediation.

“You can be technically brilliant, but if you irritate your other five crewmates, the crew is not going to be as efficient and productive as a crew that might have less technical skills, but get along well together,” he said.

The Canadian Space Agency has chronicled the current recruitment process online, but the specifics remain a tightly guarded, confidential process.

But that hiring process has continuously evolved over time, said Thirsk, who is now chancellor at the University of Calgary.

HANDOIT PHOTO: NASACanadian Astronaut Bob Thirsk in orbit.

In the early ’80s, Canada was seeking payload specialists to fulfil science and research roles on shuttle missions.

Thirsk, a medical doctor who was inspired by Apollo missions, jumped at the opportunity.

There were essays, physical examinations, detailed applications and psychological testing even before meeting with selection committee members. Then came additional technical briefings, public speaking tests and even more intense physical and psychological testing.

“We even attended cocktail receptions — we were naive, we thought we were just there to meet people, but we were actually being watched to make sure we had the social graces that were required to be a representative of Canada,” Thirsk said with a laugh.

More than three decades later, Canadian astronauts hold the same functions as their NASA or international counterparts, Thirsk said. That includes taking part in spacewalks, operating robotics and taking on leadership roles as Chris Hadfield did when he commanded the International Space Station in 2012 and 2013.


Dave Williams, who joined in 1992 and went to space in 1998 and 2007 before retiring the following year, said evidence suggests the current prospects have faced simulations of intense physical situations such as jumping into water from a helicopter, coping with flooded compartments and dealing with firefighting scenarios.

“These are all things we did not do in 1992, we added them in 2009,” Williams said, noting the simulations are more arduous this time around.

“Every time we do this, we change it, we morph it, we try to make it a more rigorous process,” added Williams, now CEO at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ont.

Williams, who was involved in the 2009 hiring process, says exercises allow appraisers to see how candidates react in an operational environment — where time-critical decisions matter, not unlike during unforeseen circumstances in space.

HANDOUT/AFP/Getty Images
HANDOUT/AFP/Getty ImagesThis NASA TV handout frame grab shows a view of Earth from the International Space Station on April 22, 2017.

“We’re trying to evaluate the comfort level that candidates have with being uncomfortable,” Williams said. “I mean being uncomfortable because you’re at the edge of your performance capabilities and that’s just part of the nature of what we do in the space program.”

Not to say that only people like test pilots or surgeons make decent astronauts, Williams added, noting sometimes people who work in remote, isolated environments develop space-worthy skills.

Both Williams and Thirsk agree getting to the final group is a huge accomplishment in itself. Williams called it a humbling experience to be around talented individuals. Those selected with him included Hadfield and Julie Payette.

Thirsk said the rigorous process tightened bonds in his group, which included current Transport Minister Marc Garneau, former CSA boss Steve MacLean and Roberta Bondar.


“We actually became friends, we were all kind of naive, we were all thrown into this together not really sure about what to expect as an outcome, all passionate about space flight,” said Thirsk.

“That actually bonded us together even though we were all competing for a small number of spots.”

The new members will begin training in Texas in August, joining Canada’s two active astronauts, Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques, who both joined in 2009.

Saint-Jacques has been assigned a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station that is scheduled to begin in November 2018.

Source : news.nationalpost.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

Discovery’s newest series comes with a far-out premise: A hunt to uncover shipwrecks following a so-called “treasure map from space” made by the late astronaut Gordon Cooper.

In “Cooper’s Treasure” (premiering Tuesday at 10 p.m.), we learn that when he was orbiting the Earth on spaceflights in the 1960s, Cooper also took note of anomalies he noticed along the sea floor — which he thought could indicate sunken ships.

In 2002, two years before he died (at age 77), Cooper shared hundreds of documents containing those coordinates with Darrell Miklos, a fellow treasure-hunting enthusiast with whom he shared office space.

“He said if anything ever happens to me, make sure you take these and finish whatever we haven’t been able to finish together — and that’s what I’m doing now,” Miklos, 54, says of his mentor.

The logistics of exactly how Cooper was able to gather such data from space remains debateable. Miklos says Cooper told him that, while in space, he was tasked with experimenting with long-range detection equipment to locate nuclear threats. Jerry Roberts, who worked as an engineer at McDonnell Aircraft — designing the Mercury and Gemini capsules in which Cooper flew in 1963 and ’65 — says such magnetic detection equipment didn’t exist at the time. He does, however, believe that Cooper could have spotted such anomalies in another way.

“I am firmly convinced that [he did it] using this Hasselblad camera — it was the state-of-the-art best camera that you could get at the time — and [with] his extraordinary eyesight,” Roberts says. “If you read his post-flight reports, he talks about seeing buildings, smoke coming out of factories, trucks. These sightings were then investigated and proven to be correct.

“So there’s no question about it that he had something in the order of 20/10 eyesight.”

Miklos, a married father of two daughters, got into chasing shipwrecks from his father, the professional treasure hunter Roger Miklos, and has worked on recovery missions on and off in between other gigs, like serving as CEO of the now-defunct boat manufacturing company Swift Oceanics. “Cooper’s Treasure” (six episodes and two follow-up specials) trails him as he gets back in the game, first by decoding Cooper’s documents — a process that took nearly nine months due to the volume of Cooper’s notes and messy handwriting. He also assembled a team — archaeologist Jim Sinclair, survey specialist Mike Perna, business partner Johnny Bell and lead diver Eric Schmitt — to investigate potential shipwreck sites in the Caribbean.

“We’re in the search and identify phase of the investigation,” Miklos says. “We extracted five anomaly readings. And we are five for five — we’ve found shipwreck material in all five anomalies. So Gordon’s treasure map from space is extremely accurate. The detailed files he gave me match exactly what we’re finding underwater. That leads me to believe that the entire chart is probably accurate.”

Because Miklos’ team is still actively engaged in recovery missions at the shipwreck sites, he can’t be more specific about what he’s found or where he’s found it. But he says the wealth potential is substantial. One of the anomalies Cooper noted in the ’60s eventually turned out to be the 17th-century Spanish ship Atocha, which was discovered in 1985 by treasure hunter Mel Fisher and yielded $450 million in salvaged gold, silver and jewelry.

“We expect to find the same material on a lot of these anomalies,” Miklos says.

“Cooper’s Treasure” 10 p.m. Tuesday on Discovery

Source : nypost.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

“It neither came from outside nor inside the spaceship, but sounded like someone is knocking the body of the spaceship just as knocking an iron bucket with a wooden hammer,” China’s first astronaut told China’s Central Television.

Yang Liwei,  who is China’s first astronaut and now a major general, told the TV channel that he heard a knock ‘time to time’ during his time in space.

He added that after his return to earth, he told technicians about the mysterious sound and even tried to imitate it with some instruments but no instrument made the exact sound, so the mystery remains unsolved.


“It neither came from outside nor inside the spaceship, but sounded like someone is knocking the body of the spaceship just as knocking an iron bucket with a wooden hammer,” Yang said.

Yang, born in June 1965 in northeastern Liaoning Province, is China’s first astronaut and now a major general.

In 2003, he became the first person sent into space by the Chinese space program. His mission, Shenzhou 5, made China the third country to independently send humans into space.

Liwei claimed that the sound was also heard by other Chinese astronauts.

Author:  Web Desk

Source:  http://arynews.tv/

Categorized in Science & Tech

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