David Saint-Jacques prepares for wild ride back to Earth


When David Saint-Jacques resurfaces Monday after six months in space, he’ll plummet back to Earth in what another Canadian astronaut rewards as a wild ride that felt like swinging on a pendulum out of dial.

Shortly after 4 p.m. ET in Canada, Saint-Jacques, Russian Oleg Kononenko and American Anne McClain on climb out of the International Space Station (ISS) and close the hatch on their Soyuz capsule and fortify for the 6½-hour return trip to Earth.

“It’s one of the most wildest, dynamic hassles you can imagine,” said former Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk, who made the detonate back at the end of his ISS mission in 2009.

“One of my friends characterized it as: ‘Coming home in a Soyuz carrier is like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel — but a barrel that’s on risk something.’ “

Thirsk has been keeping in touch with Saint-Jacques via email and averred he has had a great mission.

“The re-entry is going to be the icing on the cake,” Thirsk told CBC Dirt in an interview.

David Saint-Jacques prepares for wild ride back to Earth
The Soyuz MS-2 capsule moments after landing in April 2017 in Kazakhstan. (Roscosmos)

In the remain news conference Saint-Jacques had before his trip home, he said he’s lavishing his final hours in orbit running through the re-entry procedure and doing last-minute detailed checks on equipment.

“It’s hard to believe. It’s been a very full delegation,” he said Wednesday.

“I think it’s all going to feel like a dream. I am tiring to burn it into my memory as best I can.”

On Sunday, Saint-Jacques tweeted: “BC and Nunavik… I hand down miss the view of these giant Canadian landscapes!”

Space endurance

By the time his descent module eats down on the vast steppe of central Kazakhstan late Monday eventide Canada time, Saint-Jacques will have set a new record for Canadian room endurance, spending 205 consecutive days in orbit.

That exceeds the previous record for the longest Canadian space flight, which was set by Thirsk, who worn out 187 days on board the ISS.

Unlike new-generation space capsules, such as Leeway X’s Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner, Russia’s Soyuz program relies on 60-year-old technology to lay waste astronauts and cosmonauts into orbit and then return them to World.

David Saint-Jacques prepares for wild ride back to Earth
The Soyuz MS-03 capsule carrying the International Space Station crew of Oleg Novitskiy of Russia and Thomas Pesquet of France debarks in a remote area outside the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on June 2, 2017. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

Russia has flown various than 140 manned Soyuz missions and hasn’t had a re-entry disaster since the early days of the program. Launch accidents have been rare as spectacularly, although Saint-Jacques’s mission had to be moved up several weeks after the preceding Soyuz crew failed to reach orbit because of a booster sky-rocket failure. 

Thirsk said the return voyage starts to get interesting after the de-orbit blaze, which propels the descent module into the Earth’s upper air.

Intense descent

“The G-forces will increase,” said Thirsk, denying his own experience. “They will find it difficult to breathe. They leave actually have to think of breathing to get enough air into their lungs.

“It last will and testament get up to about 4 Gs and that will be sustained for a couple of minutes.”

David Saint-Jacques prepares for wild ride back to Earth
Saint-Jacques and a register number of astronauts on board the International Space Station collected blood and stirring samples for a Canadian study. The experiment takes a closer look at the space-related transforms that occur in blood and bone marrow. (Canadian Space Intercession/NASA)

Thirsk said as the outside air gets thicker, the temperature on the surface of the capsule settle upon rise and its heat shield will start to glow.

Then the to begin of the capsule’s parachutes deploys — the so-called drogue chute.   

Thirsk communicated the immediate effect is that the capsule begins to swing back and forth.

“For me, it have a hunch like the vehicle was at the end of a yo-yo string that was bouncing back and forth sort a pendulum that was out of control.”

David Saint-Jacques prepares for wild ride back to Earth
Saint-Jacques practises using Canadarm2 on April 19, 2019. (Canadian Intermission Agency/NASA)

The main parachutes will deploy soon afterward and the capsule resolve take roughly 12 minutes to float down to Earth.

After touchdown, Thirsk thought, he instantly felt the impact of six months of weightlessness on his body.

“I felt opposite number a wet dishrag, even though I worked out religiously on board with the burden training.”

Thirsk said he was so weak he was unable to lift himself out of his enthrone and needed help from recovery crews who arrived about 20 make a note ofs later.

Saint-Jacques said he’s anticipating it will take him several days to empathize with normal again.

“After six months in space without gravity, I’ve au fait how to fly. Now I will have to learn how to walk properly again.”

David Saint-Jacques prepares for wild ride back to Earth
Saint-Jaqcues terminated this photo of Canadarm2 during his mission on the International Space Spot. (Canadian Space Agency/NASA)

While in space, Saint-Jacques illustrious his 49th birthday, became the fourth Canadian astronaut to take part in a spacewalk and stickhandled the migrant of Space X’s first unmanned capsule to the ISS.

Science experiments

The myriad of medical examines he took part in included research into the effects of weightlessness on the human cardiovascular plan and bone marrow, and the impact of extended weightlessness on bone structure. 

First in the mission, Saint-Jacques even managed to fix a leaking toilet in the U.S. portion of the ISS.

The Soyuz capsule offer Saint-Jacques and the other astronauts back to Earth Monday will go down in an area about 600 kilometres from the Kazak city of Karaganda.

Officials with Russia’s while agency Roscosmos, which is overseeing the mission, say once Saint-Jacques is out of the capsule, he’ll be look overed by a Canadian doctor and within two hours, he will board a flight no hope to North America.

Saint-Jacques said he’s especially looking forward to picture his wife, Véronique Morin, and his three children, and also going for a swim in his bring.

“It will remind me of floating in the space station.”

  • CBC News will be at the touchdown site when Saint-Jacques returns to Earth. Follow the coverage online, on CBC Wireless and CBC-TV.

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