Department of Materials


15 Mar 2021

Materials Student and Athlete Chats with Chris Hadfield – Astronaut

Alex Haydock-Wilson x 670 Hadfield

Here at Loughborough University, we are used to writing news about Part C Materials Science and Engineering student, Alex Haydock-Wilson, as he treads the world stage in terms of athletics, but Alex had an altogether different opportunity recently, to speak with one of the people he draws inspiration from and who he hoped might be able to offer some insight into what would make a good final year Materials project – retired Canadian Space Agency and NASA astronaut, Chris Hadfield.

As well as being an astronaut, Chris, (pictured below right), was an engineer and former Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot.  He was the first Canadian to walk in space, flying in two Space Shuttle missions, as well as serving as Commander of the International Space Station.  

Chris Hadfield x 300

As Chris didn’t know Alex before meeting, one would ask how this came about – Alex shared the following: 

“It started with an athletics friend who trains in Loughborough and was also on the BBC program “Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes”. I asked him if he could get me in touch with anyone at NASA and he sent me Chris Hadfield’s email address.

This was crazy to me considering I’d been a fan of his for years. I didn’t pin much hope on getting a response, and if I did, I expected a brief one, but I went ahead anyway and asked if he’d be willing to have a zoom chat to talk about technology in space.

I knew I wanted to ask specifically about his spacewalks, seeing it as the most visceral of astronaut experiences. To my shock, I received a reply within a few days, and we organised a 20-minute slot on the 5th of January.

The call ended up lasting closer to 40 minutes and hanging up was painful. Chris is captivating when he speaks and carries with him a depth of experience and knowledge that you can’t get from any book.

Talking to him inspired me to no end to keep pursuing my aspirations and to join the fight to “overcome our own ignorance”.

A big thank you to Chris Hadfield for the experience!”

Please follow this link to see excerpts of Chris and Alex’ chat.

On behalf of the Department of Materials and Loughborough University, our thanks go to both Chris Hadfield and Alex for sharing this experience with us.

If you want to know more about Chris Hadfield, do check out his social media channels below:

Facebook    Twitter    Instagram    YouTube

Chris has also just released his latest book The Apollo Murders.  The book is available now for pre-order and will be released on October 12, 2021. To pre-order the book, click on This Link.

Chris Hadfield image credited to Max Rosenstein.