Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Airborn: 125 Million Kilometres Around the World


Two weeks ago in Ottawa, I got to meet Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk, who took my book Airborn with him on his six-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2009. He also took another Governor-General Award-winning book up with him, Deux pas vers les ├ętoiles by Jean-Rock Gaudreault. Both books travelled for six months at a speed of 8km a second, at an altitude of 300 km, for a total distance of 125 million kilometres.

At a ceremony at the Science and Technology Museum, Dr Thirsk officially returned both books to earth where they will be put on display in the Space and Aviation Museum.In his speech, he talked about why both these books were particularly appropriate choices for him to take into outer space -- as they dealt with young determined protaganists with dreams that take them beyond the earth. Here he is talking about how Matt Cruse has the right stuff to be an astronaut!

He went on to make a fabulous presentation about his six months aboard the ISS. I was filled with awe and admiration for the demanding and varied work the astronauts do aboard station.

An astronaut is a pretty hard act to follow, but I was asked to do a short reading from Airborn. I kept it very short indeed.

Mostly I just tried to be amusing. I seem to have gesticulated a lot.

Note my dynamic hand movements below!

But the real star of the show was, of course, Bob Thirsk. How often do you get to meet a real astronaut?

I wish I'd gotten a picture of myself with the moon in the background. Next time....