Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques turns upside-down during his last press conference in orbit before returning to Earth on June 24. (Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canadian astronaut gives final press briefing before returning to Earth

After spending more than six months in space, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will return to Earth on Monday, June 24.

As he is getting ready to leave, Saint-Jacques gave a final press briefing on Wednesday morning on the International Space Station (ISS).

You can watch the full press conference here:

He started by thanking the winners of the “Wanted: Creative Writers” contest who sent their stories to David Saint-Jacques for him to read. He explains that he also read them to his children. They had to write an out-of-this-world space-themed children’s story and submit it to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) which published the winners on its website.

I have young children myself and it’s something that we like to do. I can keep reading stories to them, even from space.Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques

Asked about the highlights of his stay on board the ISS, Saint-Jacques talked about his first spacewalk — the first Canadian to walk in space since David Williams in 2007 — but also when he captured a SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle in May using the Canadarm2.

The Canadarm 2 reaches out to capture a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft on April 17, 2015. (AP Photo/NASA)

So much activity going on, both in terms of science and in terms of operations. […] Mostly it has been an incredible human adventure with our crew here.Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques
Pros and cons of living in space

While playing with his microphone and making flips in the zero-gravity room, Saint-Jacques explained what he was looking forward to doing when returning to Earth.

I look forward to the reunification with my friends, my family, my loved ones. I cannot wait to take my wife, Véronique, in my arms and take my children on my shoulders. I might have to wait a little bit of rehab because I’ll be weak I think when I come back.Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques

Saint-Jacques looks forward to simple things like feeling the wind on his face or just walking down a busy street.

He also explained how he learned to fly after losing all sense of gravity and balance in space. The downside is that he will have to learn to walk again.

I will be holding someone’s hand probably, I might be nauseous, easily disoriented. It is probably gonna take days or weeks before that get back.Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques takes part in a spacewalk. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Saint-Jacques also said that he has grown a little because of his spine which has elongated in the absence of gravity. Again, when he returns to Earth, the gravity of the planet will “crush him a little and it can be painful”, he explains.

Looking forward perhaps to jumping in the pool because in the water you can float and it’s quite comfortable. Maybe it will remind me of being in my days here in space.Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques
Saint-Jacques’ legacy on board the ISS

Asked about the legacy he will leave behind, Saint-Jacques hopes to share the perspective that space gives him, such as the beauty and fragility of our planet, which “we must take care of for generations to come,” he said.

He also mentioned the political aspect of the ISS, referring to the many countries that have contributed to the construction of the station and how we can all work together when we put aside our differences and create incredible things.

While aboard the space station, Saint-Jacques has conducted several experiments and spoken with children across Canada.

Five days left in space

In his last days on the space station, the Canadian astronaut explained that he will try to ‘burn it [his experience in the ISS] in his memory’ because he knows that when he is back to Earth, it will be hard for him to believe he lived in space for six months.

The day I go back to Earth, I will have to pinch myself. I think it will all feel like a dream. I will maybe wonder if it all really happened.Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques

Now, the Canadian astronaut will continue his work during the last few days he has left on the ISS and will pack everything he has. Saint-Jacques can leave nothing behind in the station.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Space Agency tweeted a video of Saint-Jacques explaining what he was packing ahead of his return to Earth.

He is scheduled to undock from the space station at 7 p.m. on June 24. Deorbit of the Soyuz capsule is expected at 9:55 p.m. and landing is expected at 10:48 p.m. in Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Canada’s next astronaut will be Jeremy Hansen who is to head to space sometime in the coming years.

With files from CBC

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