A Fond Look Back At Hadfield’s ISS Mission (VIDEO)
As the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield had many important duties aboard the giant Earth-orbiting laboratory, not the least of which was overseeing the safety of the crew.
But as Hadfield’s time aboard the ISS comes to a close, a review of his tenure reveals what has been obvious to everyone following his adventures on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, and to every student who participated in a video chat or amateur radio conversation with him:
Chris Hadfield has made the unreachable corners of outer space personal, fun, and incredibly interesting.
To a large degree, that’s because Hadfield has used social media to keep his friends and fans updated on what he’s doing every day.
[Hadfield holds a live chat with William Shatner aboard the ISS.]
He’s taught science to the world, and has shown us how things are taken for granted here on Earth – things as seemingly mundane as crying and wringing out a washcloth, which happen differently in space due to a lack of gravity. (As the first Canadian to walk in space and to operate the Canadarm, Hadfield set another Canadian Space Agency record with the video of the washcloth experiment, which has been viewed millions of times.)
[Hadfield shows how astronauts use washcloths.]
Hadfield has also taught us how important the Space Station continues to be to medicine, science and the future of space exploration by walking us through on-board experiments. These experiments will help doctors better understand the impact of gravity on health – a key to helping the bed-ridden on Earth and the crew of future space missions.
Hadfield showed us his serious side while overseeing his tasks involving the Canadarm2 aboard ISS and while continuing tests of Dextre, the station’s robotic “handyman.”
The talented Hadfield entertained us with an acoustic version of ‘Danny Boy’ on St. Patrick’s Day and the song he composed with Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson — he sang it with Robertson and hundreds of school children on Music Monday.
[Chris Hadfield sings ‘Is Somebody Singing (I.S.S.)’ with students from across Canada.]
The humble Hadfield schooled us by taking on even the most basic of jobs aboard ISS, such as changing the urine hose on the station’s waste and hygiene system.
With a dedication to saving precious resources, Hadfield highlighted a personal concern for preserving fresh water on Earth by bringing a patch from the One Drop Foundation on his mission. Then, on Earth Day, he helped fellow astronaut Jeremy Hansen announce the debut of the NFB’s Space School, an interactive website that uses video footage of Hadfield’s mission aboard the ISS to educate students about science and space exploration.
Hadfield also showed us he’s a funny guy.
One of his many photographs taken of Earth showed symmetric shapes of land in South America, which he dubbed, “Cubist farming in Brazil.” And in answer to a frequently asked question about whether he edits his own video, he answered that it was better to send it to the experts at the Canadian Space Agency, quipping, “Gravity can be helpful when moving a computer mouse.”
And finally, via social media, he’s shared with us all his gorgeous photos of Earth, spotting beauty in watery scene after watery scene.
On May 13, Hadfield is scheduled to hand over command, leaving the ISS the way he got there — aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.
He will be missed.
AJ Plunkett is a freelance writer in Virginia with experience in covering defense and aerospace industries, as well as health care issues.