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Alumni POV
Out of this world
moon photo by Reid Wiseman‚ courtesy of NASA; Nathalie Sleno photo by Jeff Sleno

Out of this world

My family watches the live feeds from the International Space Station on YouTube and my youngest asks‚ “Mom‚ are you going to go there one day?”

As a kid‚ I was drawn to the sky more than the Earth. I’d lie on the grass‚ wishing I could float above my hometown of St. Albert‚ Alta.

I would stare at the sky by day‚ stare at the sky by night‚ always scanning for satellites. My mother used to tell me I had enough questions to write a book. The one I was most famous for: “But‚ why?”

In Grade 2‚ I jumped at the chance to build rockets in the rocket club. Together‚ we would build the rockets with kits and then go out back behind the school and watch them launch into space. I knew I wanted to get up there from the beginning.

By 15‚ I started down the path to learn to fly by joining cadets‚ and eventually earned my pilot’s licence. I still remember feeling the G-forces push on my entire body during takeoffs. Cadets became my introduction into the military world. Now‚ I’m a medical officer with 1 Field Ambulance Detachment in Yellowknife‚ navigating a North that can be dark‚ isolating and harsh but also prime for adventure.

We know that with space exploration comes the unknown and some might wonder: Why would a mother of seven want to court that kind of risk? “But‚ why?” they might ask. Why not? I’d like to say.

My kids know the rigorous aptitude tests I took for this Canadian Space Agency competition. They know I can fight an onboard fire. They know I can escape from a capsule in high seas‚ then make it to the top 17. My heart felt full when my son affirmed: “Now I know nothing is impossible.”

Space exploration will be a growing conversation for the next generation.

To be part of our planet’s next chapter—as it unfolds in outer space—is to find ways to sustain life off-Earth for the long term and develop environments that are renewable. Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking warns that climate change‚ asteroids‚ epidemics and population growth will push us to populate a new planet in 1‚000 years or maybe as soon as 100. He’s pushing for a moon colony.

The moon would be an awesome place to start. It’s 384‚400 kilometres from here‚ but it’s felt so much closer my entire life.

Space exploration serves humanity without borders or division. Whatever we gain is gained for the entire human race.

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