How do you say goodbye to the International Space Station after five months in orbit? Well, if you’re Chris Hadfield, the commander of the latest mission to the ISS, you do so with a musical rendition! Yes, the Commander who back in February via telepresence with the Barenaked Ladies and Wexford Gleeks, is at it again. Back then, it was the original song “I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing)” that captured the hearts and minds of Canadians and people around the world.
This time around, it was his rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” that blew people away. Changing the lyrics just a little to make for a more positive tone, the version Hadfield sings here is essentially a farewell to the ISS and an expression of anticipation about his impending trip home. And as usual, he played his own guitar, sang all of his own the lyrics, and managed to capture the perfect combination of happiness and poignancy.
And it was a bittersweet event, when you get right down to it. Though Hadfield acknowledges that he will be coming home after many months of being away, he also repeatedly acknowledges in his musical rendition that this is the last time he will be seeing the ISS or looking down at Earth from orbit. One cannot help but feel that, under those circumstances, that Hadfield was expressing some mixed emotions, and this song is quite sad as well as upbeat as a result.
But of course, he had some help from people back home. On the YouTube post where the video was uploaded, Hadfield thanked Canadian musician Emm Gryner, his son Evan Hadfield, music producer Joe Corcoran, and TV producer Andrew Tidby “for all their hard work.” A link to the music video was also Tweeted out from his Twitter account about one hour after he formally turned over command of the ISS to Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov with the message:
With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here’s Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World.
Some of Hadfield’s own lyrics refer to his impending return, such as “Lock your Soyuz hatch and put your helmet on” or “Detach from station and may God’s love be with you.” Along with the two other members of his mission crew, the departure took place shortly after 7 p.m. ET, yesterday. The trio then landed under a large parachute in the flat steppes of Kazakhstan at 10:31 p.m. ET where they were picked up by helicopter and flown to Karaganda, Kazakhstan for medical checkups.
What’s next for Hadfield and his crew? Late tomorrow, Hadfield and Marshburn will be arriving via a NASA flight back in Houston while Romanenko will board a Russian aircraft for a flight to Star City (aka. Zvyozdny gorodok), just outside of Moscow. And when Hadfield finishes the last leg of his trip home, I am sure he can look forward to a hero’s welcome, not to mention a lifetime of endorsements an fond memories.
After all, if he’s demonstrated anything in the past five months, its that he’s quite the performer in addition to being an astronaut and commander. And given the impact he has had, I’d be very surprised if Canadians or the world at large stopped thinking about him anytime soon. In the meantime, check out the video of his cover of “Space Oddity” below. The production values and Hadfield’s singing are pretty damn awesome, if I do say so myself!