Commander Chris Hadfield is the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station. (Photo: NASA)
Over the past five months, Commander Chris Hadfield has stolen the hearts of millions as he zooms around the Earth’s orbit, sending tweets to internet users far below. These correspondences, like thousands of digital message-in-a-bottles, spanned multiple mediums and ranged from the playful to the poetic. But together, they formed Hadfield’s invitation to the public to join him in his fascination and love of science.
As his mission comes to a close, we've put together ten reasons why we love Canada’s first commander of the International Space Station:
1. He isn’t afraid to cry in front of millions
With the help of a water bottle and his boundless aplomb, Hadfield had a little “cry” aboard the International Space Station to show what would happen. The results are both charming and oddly disconcerting, as the liquid blob jiggles around his eye.
2. He cracks jokes with Captain Kirk
Trekkies everywhere rejoiced when Hadfield chatted with Canadian actor William Shatner. Shatner first contacted Hadfield via Twitter on January 3, asking, “Are you tweeting from space?” Hadfield quipped back, “Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we’re detecting signs of life on the surface.”
3. He has a cooking show
Getting enough nourishment in space is tricky business, as we saw in Hadfield’s multiple videos showing how the astronauts make and rehydrate their food aboard the ISS. We’d like to suggest the segment’s title be changed to, “Food that’s out of this world,” but the joke’s been done, so we won’t.
4. He reaches out to the next generation of scientists
A father with three fully grown kids of his own, Hadfield has repeatedly beamed into schools to talk with students and answer questions. He has even performed suggested experiments that were sent in by students.
5. He celebrates the holidays
There’s nothing like a little festivity to remind yourself of home.
Hadfield put on his best St. Patrick's Day attire on March 17 (left) and even brought Easter eggs into space for the crew (right). (Photo: Canadian Space Agency/Chris Hadfield)
6. He even celebrates the holidays that aren’t technically holidays
For April Fool’s day, Hadfield posted a series of pictures to twitter over the course of a few hours that showed a small speck growing into a fast approaching UFO. In the final picture, Hadfield announced that the alien had boarded the ISS and was repeating the words “sloof lirpa” (April Fools backwards). You got us good, Hadfield.
Hadfield posted this photo to Twitter on April Fool's Day. (Photo: Canadian Space Agency/Chris Hadfield)
7. He’s a family man
Hadfield’s family is pretty spread out. Between the five of them, they are living in Canada, the United States, Germany, Ireland, China and, oh yeah, space. But they stay close through email and Christmas get-togethers. Hadfield’s son, Evan, also helps curate his dad’s very active social media account.
From brushing his teeth to dressing himself to tucking in for bed, Hadfield made the everyday seem extraordinary. Even basic nail hygiene took on a mystical allure.
10. He reminds us of the beauty of our planet
As he circled the planet, Hadfield put his photography skills to use and took countless pictures of the cities and land formations below. He showed us a new way of seeing our world and our place in it.
Hadfield tweeted this photo of the U.S.-Mexico border on May 8, 2013. (Photo: Canadian Space Agency/Chris Hadfield)
Update: In light of recent events, we’ve decided it’s necessary to add a #11. On the eve of his return to earth, Hadfield released the first made-in-space music video, in which he covers the hit song Space Oddity. And to amend David Bowie’s lyrics, we’d just like to say: This is ground control to major Chris, you’ve really made the grade.
Why do you love Hadfield? If you could spend an afternoon with him, what would you talk about? We want to know. Tweet us: @CanGeo