May 15, 2013 7:15 pm
How do you celebrate the end of an era? With a song, of course.
In this case, the era ending was Commander Chris Hadfield’s two expeditions on the International Space Station, first as a crew member of Expedition 34, and then as Commander of the ISS for Expedition 35.
The song, of course, was Hadfield’s cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” which as of the writing of this post had gotten over 11,270,600 views on YouTube in the three days since it was posted. (Now I’m not a big fan of cover versions, but I have to give Chris credit for infusing Bowie’s tune with new meaning and an unfathomable depth of emotion.)
As StarTalk Radio’s Social Media Director, I have watched Chris take the Twitterverse by storm, tweeting @Cmdr_Hadfield and amassing over 947,900 followers in a short period of time. His tweet-exchange with William Shatner, and eventually George Takei (on Facebook), Leonard Nimoy, and Wil Wheaton, is now famous. And while I didn’t catch Chris’s AMA on Reddit, I hear it’s one of the best ever. According to Reddit, “I Am Astronaut Chris Hadfield, currently orbiting planet Earth” is the #8 AMA of all time. (A small part of me remains proud that Neil’s AMA is still #3 all time, behind Barak Obama and Bill Gates.)
Chris wasn’t the first astronaut to tweet, mind you. That honor belongs to friend of the show @Astro_Mike Massimino (1,261,799 followers) who sent the first tweet from space at 4:30 pm ET Tuesday, May 12, 2009: “From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!”
And he may not have sent the most famous tweet from space, which most likely belongs to NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover (1,348,569 followers), which tweeted from the planet Mars: “I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!! #MSL” and received 70,583 retweets.
But what Chris Hadfield did was extraordinary. To a greater extent than anyone else before him, Chris took all of us up with him to the International Space Station, and he let us see what he saw as he saw it.
I have often wondered if David Bowie’s song inspired anyone to become an astronaut. But as I watch Chris Hadfield sing it, strumming a guitar and floating through the ISS as he prepared to say farewell to space, I have no doubt in my mind that somewhere, out there, there is more than one future astronaut thinking, “Someday, that’s going to be me up there.”
That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!