It had been a busy weekend for everyone in space, with an unplanned spacewalk, supervised in part by Hadfield from the interior of the space station. Two astronauts switched out a coolant pump in an attempt to stop an ammonia leak that had gotten worse and had forced the shutdown of a power system on the orbital laboratory. NASA is still evaluating whether the repair job did the trick.
The unusual, rushed spacewalk didn’t grab public attention like the music video.
“With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here’s Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World,” tweeted Hadfield, who during his time in space helped out on 130 science experiments.
In the music video, Hadfield sings and plays an acoustic guitar while floating in the space station. His son Evan pitched the idea last fall, and he and others on the ground helped mix the music and craft the video. Evan Hadfield said Bowie himself blessed the project. Bowie retweeted Hadfield’s tweet announcing the video and posted a link to it from his official Facebook page, where the Hadfield version (which alters some of the original lines) is referred to as “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created.”
One of the collaborators on the new music video was Emm Gryner, a former backup singer for Bowie. On her blog, she wrote: “I was mostly blown away by how pure and earnest Chris’ singing is on this track. Like weightlessness and his voice agreed to agree.”
This was not Hadfield’s first high-profile musical performance in orbit. In February, he and the Canadian group Barenaked Ladies performed with a youth choir on the first “space-Earth” premiere of a song, “I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing),” with Hadfield floating in the cupola of the station, which has the best views in the house.
Hadfield was winging his way back to Houston on Tuesday and will give his first news conference Thursday morning. In past interviews he’s made clear that he thinks human beings have a destiny in space.
“We will go to the moon, and we will go to Mars,” he said in a BBC News interview. “But we’re not going to do it tomorrow, and we’re not going to do it because it titillates the nerve endings. We’re going to do it because it’s a natural human progression.”