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First Person: Dave Williams

Astronaut brings Canadian perspective to space travel



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We go back the next year skiing and the same condo is $135,000 and so we say, ‘OK, this is it. We are on a mission.’ We looked at a bunch of places and we found this three-storey house, four bedrooms, sauna in the basement and they wanted $235,000, I mean only $235,000. Can you believe it? So we looked at each other and we said, ‘We really can’t afford it,’ so we didn’t buy it.

So yeah, I love Whistler, and that’s my story. What more can I say.

Pique: Let’s go from memories of Whistler to your memories of astronauts. What’s your first memory about space travel?

Williams: “I remember watching it on TV as a kid, the original Mercury (1958-1963) astronauts and the Gemini (1965-1966) astronauts.

I was thrilled with the concept, but never thought it was possible because Canada only had a non-human program. But now it is possible and it could very well be that your kids, or someone else’s in Canada will be part of those missions, which go back to the moon or on to Mars.”

Pique: When you see the earth from space what goes through your mind?

Williams: “When we learn geography in school we typically see a geographic atlas that has names of countries or states and provinces, but from space when you look back at the earth you don’t see all those demarcations between countries. It truly makes you realize what a small planet we live on. You can see the effects of pollution on the earth and it reminds me of how important it is for all of us to take care of our planet. There is nothing quite like being in space listening to Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World or John Lennon’s Imagine and you just sit there captured by all of this.”

Pique: So what music are you taking on this trip?

Williams: “This trip I will be taking a number of CDs from various Canadian artists… It is nice to be able to bring the CDs back and say to the artists, ‘during my mission I was listening to your music and it was a great source of inspiration.’”