Retired Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk joined the 552 Key City Royal Air Cadets recently for an online discussion about life in space. (Photo contributed)

Retired Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk joined the 552 Key City Royal Air Cadets recently for an online discussion about life in space. (Photo contributed)

Local cadets talk space with retired astronaut

Retired Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk joined the 552 Key City Royal Air Cadets this week for an online discussion about life in space

Not even the sky is the limit for the explorations of local air cadets.

Retired Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk joined the 552 Key City Royal Air Cadets this week for an online discussion about life in space.

The cadets have been learning online about space, Canadian astronauts, space technology and the International Space Station. When invited to chat with the cadets, Thirsk immediately agreed.

The New Westminster native flew as a payload specialist aboard Space Shuttle Mission STS-78’s Life and Microgravity Spacelab mission in 1996, after more than 12 years of training. In 2009, Thirsk became the first Canadian to go on a long-duration expedition (188 days) aboard the International Space Station, with two other crewmates.

The theme of his talk with the cadets was to ‘dream bigger.’ . “Fulfillment in my career came from constantly challenging myself on a regular basis and staying outside of my comfort zone. I wish the same for you,” he said.

Thirsk hopes to see a Cranbrook cadet on future missions.

“Have the courage to pursue your dreams, a solid education and persistence can often help us realize our life’s passion,” he said.

The virtual visit with Thirsk was just one of many the cadets have taken part in since the squadron moved to online training in order to ensure the Cadet Program is not a vector for transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

The 552 RCACS staff have helped keep the Cadets program fun and challenging in the virtual environment by hosting many aeronautical guests. These include a medevac pilot, a MLA-Military Envoy (retired Navy), an aerobatic pilot, a Snowbird mechanic, and members of the Bomber Command museum and Mosquito Society. Local speakers include members of our RCMP detachment, and 2Day FM(former Summit 107) radio host, explaining how radio has changed. The squadron is very thankful to the people who have given up their time to inspire youth in the community.

Air Cadets is a national program for youth 12-18 that develops self-sufficient leaders who are contributing members of their communities with a life-long interest in fitness and the activities of the Canadian Armed Forces. The Cadet Program continues to offer unique and engaging opportunities to youth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with a virtual training program and safe in-person activities when appropriate.

We are looking for more adult leaders to help us make a difference for youth in the community.

For more information on the local Air Cadet program – 552Officersdesk@gmail.com

Above: Canadian Astronaut Bob Thirsk, chats with cadets 552 Key City Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron about life in space. (Photo by: Captain Lori-Lee Bott)