As a child growing up on a farm in Southern Ontario, Jeremy Hansen was fascinated by the night skies and wondered what it would be like to leave this planet and look at it from space. At the time there were very few opportunities for someone to pursue a career in space exploration, but hard work determination and a limitless fascination allowed him to realize his dream. Now a Canadian astronaut awaiting his first mission in space, Colonel Jeremy Hansen sees far more opportunities for kids who want to pursue space exploration careers in the future.
One of the biggest reasons space exploration is growing by leaps and bounds is that it is becoming less expensive. It is now possible to reuse a rocket and its components, so new rockets don’t have to be made for each launch. Similarly satellites that are being sent into space pack more power in a smaller package and require a smaller, cheaper rocket to get them into orbit. And while it is becoming cheaper to explore space, technologies such as robotics are leading to exciting new and better ways to interact with this extraterrestrial frontier. For example, robotic arms on space craft have the ability to move the largest objects or perform the most delicate operations out in space.
So what sort of work might you do to help explore the universe?
Astronauts-In the past there have been very few positions available for astronauts but that is changing. Not only are government astronauts in higher demand but also non-government astronauts will be sought after as off-earth manufacturing becomes a bigger trade.
Engineers -Without engineers, astronauts would have no way of getting to outer space. Engineers design the spacecraft, robots, satellites and computers that help us explore and understand both the universe and our very own planet.
Technologists -Space scientists and engineers depend on the technologists to build the technology and space craft used during space exploration. These highly skilled technicians are experts on drafting, electricity, robots, radar, communications and computers.
Space scientists -People that study chemistry, geology, biology, weather, medicine and the stars and planets are all highly sought after. They make sense of the new information being gathered during exploration, and put it to use for our benefit.
Fast Fact: In space, the environment is ideal for making things. Microgravity allows materials to grow freely, mix evenly and stay bonded together without the aid of common earth-bound manufacturing aids. For the medical community this is particularly exciting as the manufacture of both medicines and organs could flourish in these orbiting factories.
While any career in space exploration requires a high level of education Hansen says it is how you learn not what you learn that is important.
“Follow your passions and study what interests you.” – Pick something that fascinates you and have fun learning about it,” says Hansen. (This piece of advise works, it seems, as it was the very same given to Hansen by Chris Hadfield while Hansen was studying in university).
“Challenge yourself.” -Sports, camping and backpacking are all ways of facing situations where you have to make decisions, says Hansen. They allow you to practice dealing with fear, working as a team and taking action.
“Be a good human being.” -Hansen says that the Canadian Space Agency is not looking for perfect people but rather those that have empathy, good communication skills and embrace challenges between people and work through them. One of the greatest successes of the International Space Station is that people from all over the world are working together to achieve something extraordinary and extremely difficult.
Article originally published in Brainspace Magazine Spring 2019