Former Canadian astronaut says space shuttle is a vehicle of hope

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OTTAWA — Sending messages of hope from space is a big part of what flying to the outer limits is all about, say some of the privileged few who have orbited high above the Earth.

Former Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean says there’s no passport control on the International Space Station and the work is done as a team.

His experience on the space shuttle felt like “flying inside an icon of hope for the world in general” and he found sharing dinner with astronauts from other countries particularly memorable.

“Space and peace,” he reflected at a gathering of current and former astronauts Friday at the University of Ottawa.

MacLean recalled a photo recently shared online from the International Space Station featuring floating pieces of chocolate.

The treats were from Peace By Chocolate, a Canadian candy company founded by Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia.

MacLean noted the chocolate was branded with the word “peace” in many different languages.

The photo shows the team with chocolates and includes a caption that says “From Syria to Space.”

“And that’s exactly what it’s about,” said MacLean.

In response, Peace By Chocolate tweeted, “How do we put this into words? Can’t describe receiving these photos and seeing something we all created together floating in OUTER SPACE!”

The “fireside chat” with university students gave the space travellers a chance to share stories from their missions in a relaxed setting.

Chris Hadfield, who famously performed a cover version of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ while onboard the space station, said when everyone can step back and agree “this is an amazing thing” it puts it all into perspective.

“It’s not just distance that space gives us, I think it also gives us a perspective of time.”

The next Canadian astronaut to embrace the otherworldly experience will be David Saint-Jacques, scheduled to rocket to the space station from Kazakhstan on Dec. 20.

Janice Dickson, The Canadian Press