Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield covers David Bowie; proves he’s coolest man on (and off) Earth

The Globe and Mail

This image provided by NASA shows astronaut Chris Hadfield recording the first music video from space Sunday, May 12, 2013. The song was his cover version of David Bowie's Space Oddity. (Cmdr. Chris Hadfield/AP)

“Here am I sitting in a tin can, the last glimpse of the world. Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing left to do…”

If Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield hasn’t captured your heart and inspired your awe over the past five months with his Twitter messages from space, his parting music video from the International Space Station before returning to Earth today surely will.

Story continues below ad

Hadfield, who handed over the role of commander of the International Space Station to his Russian crewmate Pavel Vinogradov on Sunday, has posted what is believed to be the first music video filmed in space, with the message: “With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here’s Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World.”

Hadfield has earlier displayed his musical talents during an Earth-space sing-a-long with the band the Barenaked Ladies and the glee choir of Toronto’s Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts. In his new video, he performs a modified cover of the Bowie hit (in which the protagonist encounters no calamity), as he floats through the station with his guitar, like in the lyrics, “in the most peculiar way.”

“Ground control to Major Tom, the time is near. There’s not too long…,” he sings, as the Earth glows in the windows behind him.

It’s a sweet and touching end to Hadfield’s 146-day mission, earning a shout-out from Bowie himself. “Hallo, Spaceboy…” Bowie tweeted in response.

As Marc Garneau, Canada’s first astronaut in space, told the Globe’s Ivan Semeniuk, Hadfield’s personality and informal, chummy approach has made his voyage a media phenomenon. During his mission, Hadfield has frequently posted stunning photos of our planet, with poetic descriptions such as “clouds swoop in on Crimea, a white bird on the Black Sea”; he’s taken a call from Canadian Star Trek actor William Shatner; and he’s created several videos explaining life aboard the space station, turning even mundane tasks like brushing one’s teeth or eating chocolate pudding cake into something fascinating.

“He has not just told people what is going on on the station,” Garneau said. “Equally importantly, he has shared his emotions. He has communicated how it feels as a human being to be up there.”

Not only has he expressed his own sense of wonder in space, he has made being there seem fun. By bringing the mission to life for us earthlings, Hadfield has likely inspired a new generation of would-be astronauts and scientists. After all, if anyone has demonstrated that astronauts can be rockstars, it’s Hadfield.

Hadfield and his crew are scheduled to land back on Earth in Kazakhstan today, 10:31 p.m. EST.