A little while ago I wrote an article about Doctor Who and what I love about the character because I clearly discovered a genie at some point recently and these are the types of things I get paid to talk about now. Anyway, I wrote about how much I loved the idea of an eccentric, benevolent space-traveller that taught kids practical lessons about science and life in awesome ways. It’s the sort of outlandish idea that could only happen in science fiction. Or so I thought…
Little did I realize that a real life Doctor Who exists and that he’s been teaching us amazing and wondrous things from his own personal T.A.R.D.I.S for the past 5 months or so. That real-life Timelord is Commander Chris Hadfield, who I’m going to go ahead and dub the coolest guy on Earth and the fact that he’s spent the past 5 months away from Earth in no way disqualifies him. In fact, it only cements how much more qualified for the title he is than everyone else.
In December of last year Commander Hadfield blasted off into space and subsequently took command of the International Space Station. That last sentence contained so much outstanding personal achievement that just typing it made my father a little bit less ashamed of me. But Hadfield wasn’t content with merely being the man in charge of a multi-billion dollar international symbol of human excellence and ingenuity (in space!). No, so when Hadfield wasn’t overseeing the closest thing that humanity has to a real life Millennium Falcon he was setting out to win the internet…and our hearts.
Hadfield is living proof that absolutely anything can be made awesome if you throw enough space at it and nothing demonstrates this more than his Twitter feed. For example, there’s nothing more annoying than a friend tweeting a blow-by-blow account of what a busy day he’s having at work. But when Hadfield does it we get the plot to a real-life Michael Bay movie.
Good Morning, Earth! A complex & vital day on Space Station, as Tom and Chris suit up and go outside to help fix the ammonia leak. Busy day!—
Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) May 11, 2013
Kinda makes your complaint about filling out TPS reports seem a bit trivial huh?
Still, that’s just ammonia, it can’t be that important to the…
Station's power relies on ammonia coolant. A few hours ago, we determined that the ammonia was leaking out of the Station and into space.—
Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) May 09, 2013
Just reading this makes me leak a little bit of ammonia.
The fact that that tweet wasn’t just a selfie of him weeping in terror is a testament to the man’s testicular fortitude. When he’s not calmly tweeting about being potentially stuck in the world’s fastest, most expensive babe magnet, Hadfield does what a lot of people on the internet do. He takes pictures of interesting scenery. But whereas most people have to make do with a grainy Instagram of a rainbow Hadfield’s pictures are slightly more impressive.
Chris Hadfield has pretty much the only job where taking an idle snapshot of the view from your office window can inspire an epiphany of the beauty of the universe and the fragility of human existence.
Chris Hadfield has extensive experience working in areas surrounding by a terrifying empty void where no intelligent life can survive for long. This meant that he was more than qualified to deal with the YouTube comment section as he’s spent the past 5 months uploading videos onto the Canadian Space Agency’s YouTube channel.
Hadfield’s channel is the polar opposite of most YouTube users’ because spending an afternoon on it actually makes you feel smarter and gives you a renewed sense of hope for all mankind.
Most of the videos are the Commander answering common children’s questions about life aboard a spaceship with good humor and enthusiasm or just demonstrating how everyday activities are exponentially cooler when done in zero Gs: things like shaving, washing your hands or eating space tacos.
I’m not an expert on what commanding an International Space Laboratory entails but one can safely assume that it’s a pretty busy job. The fact that Chris uses his valuable spare time answering the questions of children and inspiring them to enjoy science is conclusive proof that, for 5 months at least, someone up there liked us.
One of his most notable videos however was the time when the good Commander took the opportunity to chat with Captain Kirk himself, fellow Canadian William Shatner. The idea for the talk was made possible by probably the greatest Twitter exchange of all time.
You can close down the site now guys. It’s not going to get better than this.
If watching Shatner and Hadfield mutually nerd-out at one another for 10 minutes doesn’t warm your heart then go back to Vulcan you pointy eared, soulless robot!
Hearing that a famous non-musician has decided to take up a music career is usually a bad sign. Countless well-known actors, athletes and models have learned the hard way that they’re household names doesn’t automatically mean that their songs won’t be awful. We’re looking at you Bruce Willis!
So when it was announced that Cmdr. Hadfield had written a song with the Barenaked Ladies lead singer Ed Robertson to promote music education in Canada you would have been forgiven for approaching with caution. The song “I.S.S.” (Is Somebody Singing) was commissioned by the Canadian Coalition for Music Education to promote and celebrate music classes across the great white North.
I’d just like to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that not only does Canada promote youth arts but it uses a song that’s essentially about how cool space travel is to do so. We don’t say this enough but Canada is pretty great.
The song became the first one to be recorded partially in space and it’s actually really good. Chris played and strummed along with Robertson and a children’s choir back on earth from the cupola of the God-damned International Space Station allowing him to add “space rock-star” to his list of impressive titles that’s already too long. Technically, he was playing an acoustic but I think we can agree that playing the guitar in space is one of the most metal things ever done by man.
Hadfield returned to earth tonight, landing in Kazakhstan safely with two fellow astronauts and making the entire planet significantly better just by virtue of being back on it. In the same way that the likes of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the heroes that inspired his generation of astronauts, Hadfield’s exploits in space have more than likely inspired the future generation.
Before he left for earth however, Commander Hadfield gave us one last video.
If, for some reason, you can’t watch the video it’s Hadfield singing a cover of the David Bowie classic “Space Oddity.” All shot aboard the International Space Station. There’s no joke or hyperbole here, I just wanted to share it with you because it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
Welcome home Commander, you magnificent bastard!
Richy Craven is an Irish freelance writer and semi-professional idiot. You can check out more of his stuff over at Cracked, A Series of Terrible Decisions or keep up with his ongoing quest to find gainful employment on Twitter.