On Apollo 11 anniversary, Montreal astronaut sees hope in future of space exploration

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As part of celebrations hounouring the fiftieth anniversary of humanity’s first footsteps on the moon Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques described his own recent experiences in space on Saturday.

Saint-Jacques was born just six months after Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made their historic voyage, but the achievement still left a mark in his mind.

“It has meant a lot to me throughout my life. The most important aspect of it is a sense of new perspective,” he said. “It’s as if for the first time, with the Apollo missions, we were able to get out of our own house.”

Saint-Jacques returned to Earth in June after spending six months aboard the International Space Station, the longest single spaceflight by any Canadian.

During the event at the Montreal Science Centre he described his fear during blast off and the ways that half-year outside Earth changed his life.

“It completely changes your responsibility towards your own planet when you finally see it,” he said.

He also discussed his hope that the future of space exploration will act as a catalyst towards greater global cooperation.

“In space, we work together,” he said. “Environmental awareness and international collaboration at the highest level are symbolic of a new step for our species.”

Among the audience were some very young hopefuls to be the next Canadian space traveller as members of the Junior Astronaut Program came by to mark the Apollo 11 anniversary. Saint-Jacques offered a few words of advice.

“You may be small and you may think you have to absolutely listen to adults for advice, but there’s one thing every child should know. Their most precious treasure is whatever dream they can find in their heart. That direction that a dream can give you, that is your most important asset in life.”