Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques said that space exploration has been one of the things humanity has worked towards to in order to “evolve.”
Saint-Jacques said that while the priority of humanity has always been things like education, healthcare and the economy, the small fraction of the resources that have been put into advancing bold ideas have helped humankind progress in ways thought unimaginable.
“That’s how we get out of the caves, invented writing, invented, you know, horse-riding initially, dared to go through the desert, dared to climb mountains, dared to go in the sea, dared to invent all the beauty that we have around us now,” said Saint-Jacques during an interview with Global National reporter Mike Armstrong.
“So civilization is the result of that little extra. And every generation can do a little extra for humanity’s culture and civilization, knowledge and advancement.”
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Saint-Jacques, who returned from his six-month journey aboard the International Space Station on June 24, also opened up about the challenges he encountered during and after the mission, as well as how space exploration can bring nations closer together.
The real challenge of his space assignment was thinking about how his family would be able to handle him being physically away, according to Saint-Jacques who is married and a father of three.
WATCH: Back on Earth with Canadian astronaut David Saint Jacques
“And it’s not just the six months in space — it’s three years of endless travel around the world for training. That’s actually maybe a bigger difficulty. That’s the phase during which the family, your spouse or children get used to you not being there and how we’re gonna function,” he said. “How do you maintain your role as a husband as a father as a son as a friend while you’re never there physically?”
“You know, my daughter was born when I was assigned for this mission. I’ve been gone all her life.”
The space explorer says that while his initial recovery was very fast, his time getting used to the Earth’s gravity has tapered off over time.
Saint-Jacques spent a record 204 days on the station, the longest single time spent in space for a Canadian.
WATCH: ‘I’ve been gone all her life’: David Saint-Jacques on the challenge of being away from family
“If I can describe it better, you come back from space where you’ve completely adapted for a long time, feeling very comfortable in space, and then very brutally your body has to re-adapt to gravity,” said Saint-Jacques.
Floating around in space, the mind becomes very confused and disconnects parts of your sensory system, specifically the inner ear, according to Saint-Jacques.
“Once you forget about that, it’s very comfortable, you spend hundreds of days in space, floating around, tumbling around, doing cartwheels, no problem. When you come back to Earth suddenly, you get the sense of up and down again and your brain has to learn how to match that with what you see,” said Saint-Jacques on how now nauseating acclimation could be.
WATCH: David Saint-Jacques describes hardships of returning from space
Returning to the Canadian Space Agency on Wednesday, Saint-Jacques was greeted with a multitude of applause and chants of his name. During a news conference at the CSA, he also added that he would continue to recover from the effects of space flight while he spent more time with family.
On how nations are brought together through space, Saint-Jacques’ message was this:
“A Canada that’s bold, daring to innovate, part of the big global game, in that little club of nations that are actually pushing the envelope, that are making us better, stronger, smarter more collaborative — that’s another aspect of space exploration that I think is sometimes overlooked,” said Saint-Jacques.
“How, despite the real political problems that exist between nations, we should never dismiss them. They’re real, they’re hard to fix. Despite that, space continues to be that one arena where we collaborate, and have always done.”
WATCH: David Saint-Jacques: space allows us to go ‘beyond our differences’
– With files from the Canadian Press and Mike Armstrong