Having been a student and lover of science, physics, astronomy, space, and pretty much all the cool things associated with those topics, it was with a huge Canadian smile that read a few years ago that a Canadian, Commander Chris Hadfield, was named to be the commander of the International Space Station or ISS. The ISS is a multi-country effort to study and experiment with many things in space and observe effects/impacts of long-term space travel on humans. Chris was to be a member of expedition 34 and named the commander of Expedition 35. I don’t recall many people being super excited or even knowing about this great honour being bestowed on a fellow Canadian – heck, I bet most tax-paying citizens don’t even know we have a space programme at all. But for me, this was a great moment. And frankly I knew nothing of the man other than he has some mild affiliation with the University of Waterloo which I had attended, and that he was married here. Oh, and he is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.
I won’t reiterate everything that occurred along the way as it’s well documented and worth the read in Chris’ book An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, suffice to say, what he was able to accomplish as a Canadian, an astronaut, a commander, and what appears to be an all-around nice guy was incredible. He reignited the love of space, of exploration, of adventure, and oneness. He put the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and NASA back in favour and the positive spotlight with his demeanour, style, expertise. He speaks of life in terms of opportunity, optimism, and options. A truly great Canadian representative and astronaut.
Along the way his @Cmdr_Hadfield Twitter account exploded after he began publishing some of the most stunning photographs of space he’d taken. He took to his YouTube page posting short videos of simple things that are complex or unique is space – like playing with floating water or cutting your hair. When he posted a video of himself doing a slightly revised version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” he figuratively broke YouTube. Not only that, but David Bowie himself endorsed the video making it even more cool. That video has roughly 25M views as of this writing. His departure from the ISS and eventual landing in Kazakhstan was carried live on NASA TV and the source of much excitement in Canada and dominated press and social media for days around the event. Since his return it appears his schedule has been absolutely insane with appearances, speeches, talks, videos, and various other engagements. To think we’ve created both Justin Bieber and Chris Hadfield – from the same 200km radius is an odd thing.
So, why this long narrative on someone you can easily lookup on Google? Because I have just finished reading his book mentioned above. I found the book so profound, and one section stayed with me, so I decided to do what every fanboy does and sent a tweet to the Commander (I’m one of roughly 1.5M followers he currently has) and say thanks for writing the book. Completely surprisingly, not 10 minutes later I received a phone notification that I had a Twitter reply…FROM CHRIS HADFIELD. His response, simple and polite – “You’re welcome, Derek. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Chris”. If he was cool in my book before, he is a super star now.
Go get his book, you won’t be disappointed in it, I promise. This will certainly be a book we have on-board always.