Chris Hadfield has recently returned from space, coming back down to Earth on May 14, 2013 as part of the Expedition 35 crew. The first Canadian Commander of the International Space Station (ISS), he is now a social media celebrity. During his time aboard the ISS, he has turned the space program into something that is tweet-able and very much like-able. Something the space program hasn’t seen since the very birth of the Space Shuttle missions.
The affects of microgravity on water tension, as demonstrated by Commander Hadfield. (Credit: CSA)
Hadfield has made space interesting again. We are not going to the Moon so instead we are videotaping the everyday in space, which is way cooler than it sounds. His Facebook page has over 380,000 ‘likes,’ his Twitter account, @Cmdr_Hadfield, has nearly a million followers and his YouTube channel has more than 18 million video views. Hadfield, likes others before him, has taken a plethora of amazing pictures of Earth from space, but it’s his videos that have made him a sensation. His videos cover everything ISS related, from food to using the toilet in space.
One of my favorite videos is Hadfield conducting an experiment that was submitted by 10th grade students in a contest conducted by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The winning submission involved wringing out a very wet washcloth in microgravity to see its affects on water surface tension. The result is very cool to watch and totally worth clicking on! Do it!
Hadfield even serenades us in space, he closed out his time on the ISS with his own rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, which David Bowie then re-tweeted. What Hadfield has done for the space program, by raising awareness and actually engaging the public’s attention and interest, is remarkable. Not because he has become a minor celebrity but because he has done so through his depiction of science and space just as it is. There is no space race or Martian rocks, just one man showing us how to sleep, cry and shave in space. He highlights what is so important about the program without you even realizing it. He has made space cool again, now more kids dream of being an astronaut. They look up into the final frontier and see it as an adventure, something that just might be within their reach.