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Chris Hadfield Can't Wait For The New Moon Missions & He Says It's Like A 'New Frontier'

The first rocket blasts off very soon!🚀

Chris Hadfield at the Audi Innovation Series event. Right: NASA's Artemis I rocket and the moon.

Chris Hadfield at the Audi Innovation Series event. Right: NASA's Artemis I rocket and the moon.

Audi Innovation Series, Aubrey Gemignani | NASA
Senior Editor

NASA is expected to take its first steps toward returning to the moon this year, and retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield couldn’t be more excited.

The former commander of the International Space Station recently spoke to Narcity about the near future of space travel, including NASA's plans to visit the moon, as part of the Audi Innovation Series.

And while Hadfield's spacefaring career was all about the ISS, it sounds like he can't get his mind off the moon these days.

"It's kind of like a whole new frontier," he said.

“We’re building a couple of different rockets that can take people to the moon — and not just to be the early explorers like we did when I was growing up -- but actually to start taking advantage of the moon, to start settling there."

NASA plans to visit the moon in stages. First, they'll send an empty rocket around the moon, then a rocket with people inside, followed by a mission to actually put humans on the surface again in 2024 or 2025. That all begins with launching that uncrewed rocket sometime this year.

Hadfield says the moon has “tremendous potential," and if we can make space travel cheaper, it'll be like exploring a brand new continent.

"We've only just scratched the surface," he said.

Hadfield also shrugged off concerns that space is getting too competitive these days, what with Russia and the West at odds, China pursuing its own space station plans and a bunch of billionaires now running their own rocket companies.

“Sometimes we behave abysmally here on the surface,” Hadfield said. “But meanwhile, exploring the rest of the universe is probably as good an example of cooperation as we have.”

Hadfield was actually part of last year's billionaire space race, as an advisor to Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson. Hadfield was there to see Branson off on his historic trip last July, which came just a few days before Bezos made his own trip into space.

"It's to the point now where a tourist -- you have to be wealthy still -- but a tourist can buy a ride to space," he said.

"It's easy to get distracted by billionaires and Bill Shatner flying into space," he added. "But the reality is that if you're trying to set up a business in space... it has never been more possible than it is right now."

But while Hadfield is excited to see what we can learn about and do with the moon in the next few years, there’s an even bigger question that he’d love to get an answer to.

“Are we alone or not? To me, that’s the big, big question we’ve been wondering since we’ve looked up,” he said.

He added that it’s a “two-part question,” because if there is life out there, what does that mean for us?

“What can we learn?" he asked. "And is it a threat?"

Of course, if we do find life in space one day, it'll probably come after we witness one small step for a woman in the next few years.

Hadfield, 62, was alive the last time a man walked on the moon, but he still hasn't seen a woman do it -- and that will change just as soon as NASA pulls off its Artemis mission goal.

"Through Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of colour on the moon," NASA says.

And this time we'll all get to watch it live, rather than reading about it in a history book.

"It's a super exciting time," Hadfield said.

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