The Ultimate Mileage Run



I ought to spare us both 385 words and suggest you go straight to the YouTube video of Commander Chris Hadfield and his acoustic guitar on the International Space Station (ISS). The stars up there are going to look different.

Commander Hadfield became a worldwide sensation with his tweets (more than 850,000 followers), extraordinary photographs and strumming his guitar. He talked with school kids and sent videos of daily life in space. For many of us, he was the boy next door drinking Tang.

The images are so impossibly cool, the message so down to earth. Put a bag of popcorn in the microwave and settle in your favorite chair. Roundup the spouse and kids, this is a family show. (If you’re at the office, stick in ear buds, even if you don’t like David Bowie.) NASA says it’s the first music video made in space.

If you like baseball-like statistics (while the popcorn heats), the ISS is the ultimate mileage run. Roughly 240 miles above us, with an average speed of 17,240 mph, it orbits Earth in 93 minutes. The station is 239 feet long and 356 feet wide, roughly the size of a football field reversed on its side.

The ISS was launched in 1998 and is a multinational program, perhaps the most expensive item ever built. Mostly it’s a science lab utilizing microgravity and space environment, but it also tests spacecraft systems and equipment. It’s all there on Google. Go ahead. Knock yourself out.

Commander Chris Hadfield, 53, a Canadian, along with NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romaneko, touched down in Kazakhstan a few days ago after a five-month stint on the ISS. The team conducted more than 100 experiments, an ISS record. Hadfield’s interests were biology – changes to the spine, bone density and nutrition in space.

The BBC called Mr. Hadfield “the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin.”

If you didn’t the YouTube video higher up, then watch it, it’s a unique version of David Bowie’s 1969 classic song of orbiting alienation (it coincided with the first Apollo moon landing). Hadfield changed the lyrics – Major Tom said there was nothing he could do; Hadfield sang “nothing left to do.”

Is that popcorn I smell?

Well, that’s 385 words. You’ve got to see this Space Odyssey.


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