The photographers’ cameras have long stopped flashing, and you’re all strapped in. Forget ‘space celebrity’, you’re the childhood hero of an entire generation.
But none of that matters here in the bowels of the Russian Soyuz TMA spacecraft. Here, you’re just a woman or man headed to space, with scores of training in your back pocket and the years of preparation that led to this moment.
And boy, are your parents proud.
Soon the massive Soyuz ship begins to shudder and vibrate, shaking you to your core. It’s a strange feeling, says astronaut Chris Hadfield, being strapped into a shaking capsule that’s still stationary on the ground.
But that feeling only lasts for about twenty seconds.
Soon, you and your fellow crew members are slicing through the five layers of Earth’s atmosphere.
At times it’s hard to breathe, what with the many pressures being exerted on your body. While at other times it feels as if you’re being heaved to and fro by some giant.
Then, “Bang! Engines shut off and you’re weightless,” says Hadfield, “It’s just an amazing sequence that took you from sitting there, hyper aware of what life is about to give you, to just under nine minutes later being weightless in orbit. It’s quite a ride.”
Many of us will never experience the rumble of a rocket beneath our seats, but thankfully, Chris Hadfield does a mighty fine job of explaining these things:
Now a Canadian space celebrity — and the go-to guy for space tweets and photos — Chris Hadfield (@cmdr_hadfield) will soon take over as commander of the International Space Station.
In December of 2012, he blasted off to the Station aboard the Soyuz spacecraft, the only spacecraft shuttling humans to and from space. December’s launch took place from one of Kazakhstan’s Baikonur launch pads, Gagarin’s Start, which is the site from where Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin made the 1961 journey that marked the “first human orbital space flight.”
Soon, in March, Hadfield will join the ranks of previous International Space Station (ISS) commanders and will become the first Canadian to helm this massive space laboratory.
The Soyuz Experience was posted just over a month ago on YouTube by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and you can also check out SPACE.com’s video tour of the Soyuz here. (Fun fact: they play music for the astronauts and cosmonauts before launch. “Maybe some American jazz,” says NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, a space travel veteran.)
Of course, now we want to know: What does it feel like to come back down?