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Astronaut Chris Hadfield Covers David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in Space [Video]

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Chris Hadfield is an astronaut for the 21st century. The Canadian former fighter pilot and current commander of the International Space Station has shown a supreme mastery of social media. He has hosted an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit from space and has filmed several hugely popular YouTube videos demonstrating what it looks like when a wet cloth is wrung out in zero-gravity (oddly beautiful) and what happens when an astronaut cries (the tears don’t fall). He has also kept those of us on Earth enthralled by posting beautiful photos from space to his Twitter account, @Cmdr_Hadfield, which now boasts more than 800,000 followers. But Hadfield will surely gain a few more in the coming days as his latest creation spreads across the Web.

In preparation for his departure from the ISS, Hadfield has recorded a version of David Bowie’s classic “Space Oddity,” complete with some orbital strumming on an acoustic guitar and ambient sounds that Hadfield taped on the station. (See this video for Hadfield’s explanation of why the space station has an onboard guitar, and why it’s hard to play guitar in space.) The surprisingly polished video is embedded below. The response from the Bowie camp has been positive—the singer’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts both shared the video. (Bowie’s reaction to that most modern of online phenomena—the YouTube tribute—seems appropriate, given that this is the same man who in 1998 launched his own Internet service provider.)

Hadfield is scheduled to land in Kazakhstan at 10:31 P.M. (EDT) on Monday. Expect to see him making the talk-show rounds shortly thereafter.

About the Author: John Matson is an associate editor at Scientific American focusing on space, physics and mathematics. Follow on Twitter @jmtsn.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. geojellyroll 5:44 pm 05/13/2013

    Chris Hadfield is doing a fantastic job. Great to have an astronaut with some self-generated charisma that goes beyond canned NASA photo shoots (wave at the camera). Too bad this fellow wasn’t around to be the first guy who walked on the Moon…kids today might actually know his name. We’d all be inspired and taking first steps on Mars.

    Link to this
  2. 2. Proventus 7:58 pm 05/13/2013

    Canadian kids and teens know him well.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvAnfi8WpVE

    Link to this
  3. 3. CharlieinNeedham 10:21 pm 05/14/2013

    For those that don’t know the lyrics, Hadfield changes the line of the doomed astronaut from
    “Ground control to major Tom, your circuits dead, there’s something wrong”
    and also omits the line
    “Tell my wife I love her very much she knows”
    before the song hauntingly ends:
    “Can you hear me, major Tom?
    Can you hear me, major Tom?
    Can you hear me, major Tom?
    Can you…
    Here am I sitting in my tin can far above the Moon
    Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do”

    Link to this
  4. 4. notslic 7:08 pm 05/15/2013

    I saw the headline on my homepage but ignored it until SA informed me it was the Bowie song.

    As a teen I played this song regularly on my record player. It annoyed my parents because they perceived Bowie as a freak. I’m glad he changed the words. Wouldn’t want him singing about his own possible death. I like the positive changes.

    By the way, Bowie’s new album was just released. Space Oddity was released in 1971 (I think).

    Link to this

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