Mission to Mars is 'inevitable,' Hadfield tells Captain Kirk
Published Thursday, February 7, 2013 9:46AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 7, 2013 11:59AM EST
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield told the man known to millions as Captain James T. Kirk Thursday it is "inevitable" that man will one day visit Mars and that he would be willing to take part in the potentially dangerous mission, saying "it was a risk I decided to take many, many years ago."
Hadfield spoke with fellow Canadian William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk on the long-running sci-fi show "Star Trek," from the orbiting International Space Station where he is on a five-month mission.
Shatner asked Hadfield whether a mission to Mars was possible, and if it was true he would be willing to take part considering it could be "fraught with such enormous difficulty and danger."
"I'm in a position to say the risks are infinitely worthwhile when you look at the view that is just outside this window behind me and the things that lie just beyond," Hadfield replied. "And yes, going to Mars is inevitable just as sailing across the Atlantic or flying across the Atlantic or orbiting around the world or going to the moon. It's just a matter of when we figure out how."
The conversation between Hadfield and Shatner was inspired by a brief Twitter conversation the two had last month. That prompted the Canadian Space Agency to organize a live conversation between the two.
Shatner spoke from Los Angeles, Calif. while Hadfield was visible on a video link from the space station.
During their conversation, which lasted just over 10 minutes, Shatner asked Hadfield whether the U.S. space program had lost its way. He pointed out that the cancellation of the shuttle program meant Hadfield and his crew had to travel to the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket.
Hadfield replied that there have been many similar "lulls" in the American space program over the decades, but said he doesn't see it lasting indefinitely.
"It takes an enormous effort of will and technical know-how to build a space ship and then to be brave enough to launch one because you risk lives every time you do," Hadfield said. "And we're just right now in-between vehicles, much as we were after Mercury, after Gemini after Apollo. We're just in the after-shuttle era right now but fortunately because of international co-operation, we're not grounded."
Hadfield also told Shatner that in his role as Captain Kirk he had served as an inspiration for Hadfield's real-life exploits in space. He then invited the actor to visit his cottage in Ontario and sit out on the porch and look up at the stars and "compare notes."