Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield's David Bowie cover is an important moment for science
This performance of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" by International Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield has been seen and shared by everyone and their mother -- seriously, your mom has probably already written about this on Facebook -- but it is too wonderful to not share again.
As you can see from the press response collected below, Commander Hadfield is universally admired for how well he has been an ambassador for science during his command.
Here's his tweet of the video:
With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here's Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World. youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9d…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) May 12, 2013
Hadfield has been the first and only Canadian to command a spaceship and his five month mission aboard the space station ended Monday evening when he safely landed in Kazakhstan with two crewmates, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and U.S. astronaut Thomas Marshburn. The response to the video has been overwhelming.
David Bowie tweeted his approval:
CHRIS HADFIELD SINGS SPACE ODDITY IN SPACE!“Hallo Spaceboy...”Commander Chris Hadfield, currently on... fb.me/24sZNW5ly— David Bowie Official (@DavidBowieReal) May 12, 2013
and Bowie’s Facebook page said it is “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created.” More on this later.
Rachel Edidin at Wired calls it "a gorgeous and touching tribute."
Wesley Hodges at Live Music Blog writes, "one final remarkable encore" for Hadfield.
Irene Klotz at Discovery News reports Hadfield called it, "an extremely fulfilling and amazing experience."
This video has been suggested "more than any other link in my memory," says BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow.
Josh Marshall at TPM finds it an "amazing thing to see these things and know that humans can experience them, even if I never will."
Andrew Sullivan calls it "A pretty great voice for an astronaut." ("That's insulting, Andrew," responded all other astronauts. JK.)
Budget cuts by the Canadian government have forced the space agency to cut back its manned program, meaning that no Canadian astronauts are likely to spend anytime in space soon.
I’m willing to bet that it was with the knowledge that his current space mission is likely his last that led Hadfield to produce this poignant cover version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.
No doubt that played into the motivation, but this wasn't done on a whim.
The video was five months in the making, according to NBC News' Alan Boyle:
"Space Oddity" was a special case, in part due to a tangle of international copyright issues. The Hadfields started working with Bowie and his team, as well as NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, even before the astronaut's launch in December. "It was definitely something we wanted to do," Evan said.
"Hadfield is one of the most memorable astronauts to have gone into space, so it was fitting that his farewell moment to the world saw him record the first ever music video from space."
Fellow Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen explains the significance of Hadfield's social media use:
"He's brought space back, not just for Canadians but for the world," Hansen said. All of Hadfield's pictures, videos and tweets could be boiled down to a simple message: "We do live on a spaceship, a spaceship called Earth, and we need to work together to protect it."
The popularity of the music video and Commander Hadfield himself led some outlets to make the most of the moment and share more space content.
Phil Plait selected the Top 15 Pictures from astronaut Chris Hadfield.
Mashable's Amanda Wills rounds up Chris Hadfield's Top 5 Moments in Space.
Shirin Samimi-Moore at TED highlights 18 talks from astronauts, including Chris Hadfield, for example.
Curtis Rush at the Toronto Star picked out seven of the best videos of Hadfield experiments.
Kyle Wagner at Gizmodo looks into how Chris Hadfield made us care about astronauts again.
All of this is important to note. That the viral response to the music video has created a moment where it is seen as advantageous for editors to program more space-related content (including a post like this, I know) is precisely the goal of using media in the ways Hadfield has. He and his team have brought the world a view of space we have never seen in a way we have never seen. With the myriad issues we face in which science plays a role in solving, we need more people to appreciate and admire science and scientists of all types, so making the subject fun and accessible in space is a great way to do it.
Lastly, as Bonnie Malkin at The Telegraph notes "Hadfield will never need to buy a drink on Earth again," so he's also got that going for him, which is nice.
Welcome back, guys!