Chris Hadfield is one of the most famous astronauts in the world. But when he decided to pursue space travel, his home country, Canada, didn’t even have a space program. How did he go about taking practical steps to chase a seemingly impossible dream?
It all started when nine-year-old Hadfield, glued to his family’s TV set, watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. From that moment, Hadfield was intent on becoming an astronaut.
Keeping his goal firmly in mind, but not letting himself become too vested in an outcome that was (at the time) impossible, Hadfield set about his training, gathering piloting experience in the military. Over the course of his early career, Hadfield had to balance the extreme demands of his training with the knowledge that he might never have the opportunity to use his skills in space. One way in which Hadfield managed his expectations was by celebrating small successes on the way to his big goal. That way, even if he didn’t go to space, he would still find satisfaction in his accomplishments.
When the Canadian Space Agency formed in 1989, Hadfield was ready. More than 5,000 candidates applied for just four job openings for astronaut positions—and Hadfield was one of the victors. He went on to become the first Canadian to walk in space.
After his retirement in 2013, Hadfield found that lessons he’d learned as an astronaut were surprisingly applicable to everyday life. Learn how to be prepared for anything with our Instaread on An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.