Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth Monday
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, June 19, 2019 2:26PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 19, 2019 6:29PM EDT
LONGUEUIL -- Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques is set to return to Earth in less than a week as his six-month mission aboard the International Space Station comes to an end.
On Day 199 in orbit, Saint-Jacques spoke to reporters Wednesday for the last time before his Monday night return, saying that while he will be grappling with a return to gravity, he is looking forward to holding his wife and three children.
Until then, he will be appreciating the final moments of an incredibly busy experience and preparing for the return aboard a Russian capsule.
"What I'm doing for the last few days is really trying to soak it all in, if you want, because I know the day I go back to Earth, I'll have to pinch myself," Saint-Jacques said.
"I think it will all feel like a dream. I'll be wondering if it all really happened, so I'm trying to burn it into my memory as much as I can."
Saint-Jacques' first space mission, with NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, began Dec. 3 when the trio arrived aboard a Soyuz capsule.
Among his highlights in orbit was a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk on April 8 -- he was the first Canadian to walk in space since David Williams in 2007.
In May, he used the station's Canadarm 2 for a "cosmic catch" of SpaceX Dragon cargo -- the first time the feat was performed by a Canadian using the Canadian-built technology aboard the space station.
Saint-Jacques has also performed numerous science experiments while aboard the station.
In addition to setting what a Canadian Space Agency official says is a record for productivity, his mission will clock in as the longest for a Canadian aboard the space station when it wraps up next week.
The Canadian astronaut posted a video on Tuesday night showing him packing his belongings. While the bulk of his personal items will be sent back via Dragon spacecraft, he said he can take a few keepsakes with him in a small box aboard the Soyuz.
Saint-Jacques said that readjusting to life on Earth -- notably living in gravity -- will take some time.
"I've basically lost all sense of gravity, all sense of balance," Saint-Jacques said. "When I come back to Earth, I'll have to learn to walk again."