Ground Control to Major Tom
Canadian astronaut and Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield just finished his five-month tour of duty aboard the International Space Stationship (ISS) this Monday.
During that time he sent out a flurry of songs, thousands of snapshots and tweets, and other social media beamed directly from outer space to Earth.
And this is what he also did: a rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Since its posting this Sunday, it’s been viewed more than 14 million times. Even Bowie has been retweeting it.
This music video took months in the making: With Bowie’s approval, copyright permissions, and NASA signing off, the song’s lyrics were tweaked to reflect Hadfield’s return from the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz craft. His son, Evan, worked diligently on the production, too. From Earth.
“Lock your Soyuz hatch and put your helmet on,” Hadfield sings in the video. After showing scenes of Hadfield strumming on his guitar and gazing soulfully out the station’s windows in zero gravity, the video winds up with a Soyuz parachuting down to its landing– which is exactly how Hadfield returned four days ago.
Why did he do it? Commander Hadfield said he wanted to do a different kind of farewell video than others have done, and using social media as a platform. It was an emotional send off.
“Who’d have thought that five months away from the
planet would make you feel closer to people?” he asked.
“Not closer because I miss them, just closer because seeing an experience this way, and being able to share it through all the media we use, has allowed me to get a direct reflection immediately back from so many people,” Hadfield said.
“It makes me feel like I’m actually with people more– that we’re having a conversation. This experience isn’t individual; it’s shared and it’s worldwide,” he said.
Indeed. You can see the International Space Station from Humboldt.
It’s easy if you know where and when to look for it. The ISS is the third brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon. You can’t miss it because it looks like an incredibly bright, fast-moving star.
Just remember there are people up there, an international crew of seven living for months at a time in a station, which, with its solar arrays out, is about the size of a football field.
Built in pieces and weighing in at over 4,000 tons, it has more livable room than a conventional five-bedroom house, with two bathrooms, a gymnasium, and a 360-degree bay window.
It’s been up there for 12 years now and has traveled more than 1.5 billion miles, or the equivalent of eight round trips to the Sun. It’s made 57,000 orbits around the Earth traveling at 17,500 miles per hour. That’s five miles per second.
(For the best picture definition, see the video at the full-screen setting)