Earth inspires ‘never-ending sense of awe’ in astronaut Saint-Jacques

LONGUEUIL, Que. — During his first days in the microgravity of space, David Saint-Jacques was transported back to his childhood, the Canadian astronaut told reporters Monday.

It was not the feeling of gazing at the heavens in wonder he was talking about but the sensation of hanging upside down at a playground as blood rushes to your head.

“I’m a little bit congested here, like most people are, because the gravity is not there to pull blood down into your legs,” Saint-Jacques explained Monday over a video link between the International Space Station and Canadian Space Agency headquarters.

“Your body has to adjust to that, so initially you have kind of a big red puffy face …. Do you remember as a child hanging from the monkey bars in the park, how your head kind of puffs up? That’s kind of how you feel constantly initially, and then it normalizes.”

The astronaut, who arrived at the International Space Station Dec. 3, said there have already been plenty of breathtaking moments. The first sunrise from orbit after he and fellow astronauts Anne McClain of NASA and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, blasted off was ”quite an emotional moment,” he said.

“I looked out the window and this little blue crescent started to get brighter and brighter and I realized, ‘Wow, this is actually the curve of the earth,’ ” he said. “So that first sunrise on orbit, I will never forget. It was very moving — just so beautiful.”

In his first news conference from the space station, he said he is trying to learn as much as possible from the occupants who have been there since June and are scheduled to return to Earth Dec. 20. They are Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos.

He said he has begun to “dabble” in Earth photography, including photos of his hometown. Saint-Jacques was born in Quebec City and raised in the Montreal suburb of St-Lambert.

“It is just a never-ending sense of awe looking at our blue planet — this thin blue line in the atmosphere, that colour, that flash of blue — it’s just unbelievable,” he said, adding that he is moved by the beauty of sunrises and sunsets and the sense of Earth’s size.

“It’s very touching, and it’s very humbling, and it makes you want to go back to Earth and help make it better.”

astronaut

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shaun Janse van Rensburg, a Red Deer resident, said he is tired of changing clocks twice a year. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
After COVID, Kenney may consider referendum on daylight savings

Albertans may be divided on several issues today, but there’s a consensus… Continue reading

COVID-19-death toll in Alberta reached 309 according to numbers posted on the province’s website Tuesday afternoon. (Image courtesy CDC)
Another 422 COVID cases reported in Alberta and two more deaths

The Alberta government confirmed 422 COVID-19 cases Tuesday and two more virus… Continue reading

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
COVID-19 death toll verges on 10,000 as second wave continues to surge

Nearly 10,000 Canadians have died due to COVID-19, a mark of the… Continue reading

The Red Deer RCMP has filed another set of charges after an alleged assault at an anti-racism rally on Sept. 20. (File photo by Advocate Staff)
More assault charges filed after Sept. 20 anti-racism rally in Red Deer

Trevor Lyle Roy faces a second set of charges stemming from the event

Your weather forecast for Thursday, August 1st, 2019. (Pixabay)
Expect a slightly windy day in Red Deer Tuesday

Expect a slightly windy day in Red Deer. Although as of noon… Continue reading

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Reimagining ‘The Craft’ for a new batch of aspiring witches

Reimagining ‘The Craft’ for a new batch of aspiring witches

Fresh Air Experience owner Jon Digney poses for a photo in his store Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Businesses, cities look to give Canadians outdoor rec options during pandemic winter

Businesses, cities look to give Canadians outdoor rec options during pandemic winter

Indigenous fishermen head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. A First Nation in Nova Scotia that was struggling to sell its lobster harvest amid tensions over its self-regulated fishery says it has managed to find a buyer for a portion of its catch. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan
Another First Nation in Nova Scotia plans to start a self-regulated lobster fishery

Another First Nation in Nova Scotia plans to start a self-regulated lobster fishery

The TMX Group logo, home of the TSX, is shown in Toronto on June 28, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim
North American stock markets flat a week ahead of U.S. election

North American stock markets flat a week ahead of U.S. election

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adjusts his mask as he leaves a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. About 130 tech CEOs in Canada are accusing the prime minister of ignoring the needs of the innovation economy and being slow to enact data and intellectual property policies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘We need a champion in government’: Tech CEOs want prosperity strategy from Trudeau

‘We need a champion in government’: Tech CEOs want prosperity strategy from Trudeau

The corporate logo of Teck Resources Limited is shown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Vancouver miner says sale of oilsands stake more likely as output allowed to rise

Vancouver miner says sale of oilsands stake more likely as output allowed to rise

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Feds split rapid-housing cash between big cities, offer up rest for projects

Feds split rapid-housing cash between big cities, offer up rest for projects

Most Read