They say that some events inspire a generation… Well, let us go back in time to July 1969 when millions were glued to their TVs and radios during the Apollo moon landing. Amongst them, a 9-year old boy called Chris Hadfield. Forward the clock to 2012 and this boy had already become the first Canadian to walk in space. And he was about to make the history books…
Hadfield, who in 1992 was accepted into the Canadian astronaut program by the Canadia Space Agency (CSA), first flew into space as a mission specialist in November 1995, visiting Mir in the process (the ISS would not exist yet for another few years). Six years later he would fly again on STS-100 and visited the International Space Station (ISS). And in December of last year, Hadfield set of on his third and what was to be his final mission, when he flew aboard Soyuz to, and in March this year took command of the International Space Station, the place he would call home for the next five months. We can only wonder if NASA and CSA realised at the time what an impact this man would have upon their reputation. The organisations became world news, not because of anything but Hadfield‘s personality. Check out the Canadian Space Agency’s YouTube channel, and it will be clear that they were firmly behind this all the way with most recent videos all promoting their most precious asset in space.
So here you have an astronaut, veteran test pilot of over 70 different aircraft, who flew combat missions for NORAD, suddenly becoming an internet sensation because of the way he interacted with the people below him on planet Earth. As he started to take pictures of Earth and tweet them, he quickly gathered several hundreds of thousands of followers who were all amazed by these stunning photographs. While in space Hadfield also appeared in several interviews including one with William Shatner, and science shows talking about how astronauts sleep, what happens when you cry in space and even an episode where kids picked the topic, of which you can see the result in the below ‘wash cloth’ episode:
Pure marketing genius, and surely few could have pulled it off like Hadfield did. It proved that helping to run dozens of scientific experiments dealing with the impact of low gravity on human biology is one thing, but getting an entire new generation of kids glued to their monitors and mobile screens (TV is so 20th century?) might pay off more than anyone could currently predict. The video that made world news he released just before leaving the ISS in May this year. It is Hadfield’s version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, which at the current count already has an astonishing 16.3 million views! Absolutely incredible, and the man’s singing talents are ok, but a lesser known video which we wouldn’t want to hold from you was released in February of this year and is titled I.S.S. – this time it did not stand for “International Space Station” but for “Is Somebody Singing”. In the catchy tune, Hadfield collaborated with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies and the Wexford Gleeks:
Soon after Hadfield came back to Earth, he announced his retirement, quoting a promise to his wife 30 years ago which he was making good on. And so, this larger than life character who put the Canadian Space Agency firmly on the map, will bow out next week Wednesday 3 July to make way for the next generation to step forward.
We wish you all the best commander!