Before David Saint-Jacques left on his six-month mission to the International Space Station, he says his biggest concern was leaving his family behind.
Four months into his mission, his family says they are adjusting to life with him in space.
“They miss him, we all miss him,” said Veronique Morin, Saint-Jacques’ wife.
“But I try to tell them it’s a good thing to miss each other. It means we love each other.”
In preparation for Saint-Jacques’ mission, the family moved back to Montreal from Houston, Texas last July. Pierre, seven; Leon, five and Sophie, two were all born in Texas.
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Morin said they decided to move back for one year to be closer to friends and family while Saint-Jacques was in space.
“This year, we decided to have our little family adventure and come back to Montreal, which has been really fun for the kids to discover that part of their identity,” Morin said.
“It’s been so great to be welcomed back home, we have great support here.”
Morin says the kids have apps on iPads where they can track Saint-Jacques’ movements every day.
He orbits the Earth 16 times a day and the kids say they like knowing where he is in the afternoon when they come home from school.
Morin says Saint-Jacques regularly communicates with his family, calling almost every day and having hour-long video calls on weekends.
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“Even though he is everyone else’s astronaut, he will always be my husband. I am proud of him as a person, I am happy that he got to follow his dream that he had, but I am mostly proud that he keeps that connection alive with the children, with me,” Morin said.
Last Christmas, they all opened presents together at the same time. On Saturday mornings, they have waffle breakfasts together.
‘We have a waffle maker and David has waffles in space, so the kids really like that David takes his maple syrup and the boys do the same and they can share that breakfast together,” said Morin.
The kids, Morin admits, are used to Saint-Jacques being gone for long periods of time for training in Russia. She says it’s worth it because Saint-Jacques’ work is so valuable.
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“The most touching thing about his work is when we get letters from parents and teachers saying how David has inspired their children or youth or classrooms. To have them take the time to say thank you is really touching,” Morin said.
“I think this role to plant seeds and inspire young people is the one that is most important for me and the one I am most proud of.”
The couple’s children grew up in Houston, so a lot of their friends and neighbours are astronauts.
“I think they are going to grow up knowing space is there, that we have homes there. Now that Canada is going to the moon they can afford to have big dreams.”
When the kids really miss their dad, they sometimes just look up.
“Sometimes, at night when the sky is clear, we will go out on the balcony and check to see the station pass over,” Morin said, adding they often wave as it goes by.
Saint-Jacques is scheduled to return to Earth at the end of June.