Editor's Note (1/11/16): David Bowie, one of the most progressive songwriters of his generation, who sang about outer space and aliens, died on Sunday, January 10, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his latest album, Blackstar. In memory of Bowie's efforts to expand the horizon of human imagination, experience and progress we are republishing the following blog post, featuring a Bowie tribute from astronaut Chris Hadfield, which was first produced on May 13, 2013.
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.