Fear, family, and space food: Jeremy Hansen gets personal ahead of moon mission

When Jeremy Hansen was a little boy, growing up on his family farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario, his parents ordered a set of encyclopedias. 

The books arrived at the farm one at a time, in alphabetical order, but Hansen was stuck on A.

“I was in love with the airplane section,” said Hansen.

“One day I inadvertently flipped to [Neil] Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon and I saw that picture,” said Hansen, recalling the famous photo of Armstrong standing on the moon in 1969.

“I turned my treehouse into a rocket ship and started talking about space, [and] was checking out library books on moon bases,” he said.  

Now, after earning degrees in space science and physics, and working as a fighter pilot and aquanaut, Hansen is preparing to become the first Canadian to travel to the moon. The Artemis II mission will leave earth to orbit the moon in November 2024. 

Jeremy Hansen stands with fellow astronauts Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman and Christina Hammock Koch inside a model of the Orion spacecraft. (James Blair/NASA)

“This mission has kind of reminded me to look at the moon a little bit differently…it looks further to me than it used to look,” said Hansen, who will travel in the Orion spacecraft with three other astronauts for 10 days, and cover nearly 800,000 kilometers. 

He says although he feels fear about the mission, he doesn’t let it consume him. 

“We spent a lot of our day talking about the ways that we could kill ourselves on this mission, and how we’re going to mitigate those risks,” said Hansen of his fellow astronauts and team. 

“If you invest time in it beforehand, then you will be prepared and you will be able to deal with it as a team.”

But Hansen knows that even with all the training and preparation, things can go wrong.

“There are things that can happen that you can’t guarantee survival, and we just have to accept those risks,”said Hansen.

Four astronauts in space suits stand on a bridge high in the air with water and land in the scenery behind them
In September the crew of Artemis II simulated their launch day. Victor Glover, Jeremy Hansen, Christina Koch and Reid Wiseman stand on the spot, at the Kennedy Space Centre, where they will launch from in November 2024. (NASA)

“We look around the world today, and there’s lots of things to be concerned about. [There are] lots of reasons to look and say, ‘Gosh, we’re not doing great as a human race,'” said Hansen.

“[The] Artemis program is not going to fix all of that, but it is going to be an example of how we can work toward a better future for ourselves on the planet, and that makes this risk worthwhile.”

Hansen also thinks about how to prepare his family for “intense emotional moments,” like watching him blast off. He’s proud of how his three children, now young adults, are handling his extra travel and the increased notoriety that has come along with this mission.

“I’m really proud of them because they really truly get why this mission is much, much bigger than just their dad going to space and flying around the moon.”

A family of five, including a mother, one young man, two young women, and a father, smile at the camera.
Hansen’s wife, Dr. Catherine Hansen, snaps a selfie with their three children Devon, Ashley and Kaitlin. (Instagram/Jeremy Hansen)

He plans to bring something to represent their family on his trip around the moon, but hasn’t landed on the item yet.

The one thing that Hansen isn’t worried about is the food.

“I’m not a picky eater. I like convenience over a laborious preparation process,” said Hansen, who had the opportunity to taste-test some of the food that will be on the mission, including a curry he liked.

“There’s a lot of actually pretty good space food,” said Hansen. 

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