Commander Hadfield “weak and prematurely aged” after 5 months in space



When you read articles like this, you wonder if we are anywhere near overcoming the challenges of space travel.  Just a short 5 months in space has left Canadian Chris Hadfield’s body in such a state that’s even had to learn how to use his tongue for speaking in gravity again.

Reuters reports

Back on Earth, Canadian astronaut and cyberspace tweeter Chris Hadfield is getting a rough re-introduction to gravity after a five-month stint aboard the International Space Station, the former commander told reporters during a video webcast from Houston.

Hadfield became a social media rock star with his zero-gravity version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and a continuous stream of commentary on Twitter about his life in orbit. But living without gravity for five months has left him feeling dizzy, weak and prematurely aged. A veteran of three space flights, he is wearing a pressure suit under his clothes to help his circulation as his body re-adapts to getting blood back to his brain.

“Without the constant pull-down of gravity, your body gets a whole new normal, and my body was quite happy living in space without gravity,” Hadfield, 53, said in a video conference call with Canadian reporters on Thursday, three days after returning to Earth.

“Right after I landed I could feel the weight of my lips and tongue … I hadn’t realized that I had learned to talk with a weightless tongue,” he said.

He is suffering overall body soreness, particularly in his neck and back which are again having to support his head after months in weightlessness.

“It feels like I played full-contact hockey, but it’s getting better by the hour,” Hadfield said. “The subtle things and the big things are taking some re-adaptation to get used to and they are coming back one by one.”

Hadfield, who is the first from Canada to command a space station crew, NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko landed in Kazakhstan on Monday. He and Marshburn were then flown to Houston to begin rehabilitation.

“For now, I’m still trying to stand up straight. I have to sit down in the shower so I don’t faint and fall down, and I don’t have calluses on the bottom of my feet yet, so I’m walking around like I walked on hot coals,” he said.

It usually takes about three weeks until a returning astronaut can return to driving, according to the Canadian Space Agency.

“We’re sort of tottering around like two old duffers in an old folks home,” Hadfield said, referring to his crew mate Marshburn.

If you missed Hadfield farewell performance from the International Space Station, the viral hit can be seen here.  One thing is for sure, the sudden lack of Tweets, photos and YouTube clips from space is going to leave a bit of a void, especially on the PR side of the business of space.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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