David Saint-Jacques Takes Student Questions with the Prime Minister Onlooking

The Prime Minister, his wife Veronique Morin, General Julie Payette and students supported by Actua participated in teleconference with astronaut David Saint-Jacques who is on a six month mission on the International Space Station. Credit: Canadian Space Agency.
Prime Minister Trudeau participated in a live event with students from Rideau Hall in Ottawa this morning with Governor General Julie Payette acting as the moderator as the students posed questions to David Saint-Jacques on the International Space Station.

Also on hand and saying hello to her husband, was Saint-Jacques wife, Veronique Morin with whom he shared a loving greeting.

Oddly though, other than expressing his support for science research and the space program, the Prime Minister didn’t ask Saint-Jacques any questions. Instead, he deferred to the assembled students. The window for the live video call from the space station was just under 20 minutes, and as it was, not all the students managed to ask their questions.

The students, participating in Actua’s STEM experiences had some great questions.

Actua is a national charity that prepares “youth to be innovators and leaders by engaging them in exciting and accessible STEM experiences that build critical skills and confidence.”

One of the early questions concerned whether Saint-Jacques could see pollution from space, and as an example cited plastics in the oceans. Saint-Jacques responded by saying he had tried to see plastics in the ocean but so far hadn’t been able to. He said he would try again. He also said that he could see other forms of pollution, including smog.

Another student asked what’s the funniest thing you’ve done in space? Saint-Jacques replied that the astronauts occasionally pull mild pranks on each other. He said during the holidays they found an elf on the space station. It seems U.S. astronaut Anne McLain had brought a small elf onboard and was placing it in different places around the station. He also says he likes making phone calls to surprise people.  That he says is something that always seems to go over well for those getting his call from space. No doubt! Hey David, let’s chat.

Another student asked why Canada’s space program is important and what are the benefits. I don’t know if that was scripted, but with the Prime Minister listening in, it gave Saint-Jacques an opportunity to sell the program. And that he did, talking about the health research being done in space, Earth observation and its critical importance to Canadians, the economic benefits of the space economy, and lastly the inspiration of space.

One student asked Saint-Jacques what question would he ask? Saint-Jacques liked that question and said he would ask if all the years of training and hard work were worth it? The answer, you bet.

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactice Inc. Boucher has 18 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 25 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.