penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.

Ground Control to Commander Hadfield

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When I was growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut.  Actually, full disclosure: At first, I wanted to be a mom and a secretary but that can be explained by the fact there weren’t as many jobs open to women back then when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  Eventually, I settled on “astronaut” as a future job title. (Although, funnily enough, I have held those other two positions as well).

I had no idea how much work it was to be an astronaut or what was involved.  So I tried to gain experience in two ways – I studied math and science as hard as I could. And I read as much Isaac Asimov as I could get my hands on.

When I was a teenager however, it became clear that I was only an average math and science student. Algebra particularly always escaped me somehow – the letters and numbers kept whimsically changing places and I couldn’t account for them.  As time went on, my career as a scientist or mathematician, let alone an astronaut, seemed less and less likely.

Then in 1986, I watched the Challenger disaster live on television.  Any dreams I might have had of going into space exploded at the same time.  While I continued to read a lot of bad science fiction, and nurtured my geek tendencies, my life started to drift in other directions.

Now, jump into the time machine, and flash forward to this past fall.  While listening to the CBC on my way to pick up groceries in my land vehicle (remember those flying cars they promised? So disappointed they never materialized. I do love my nifty Star Trek cell phone communicator though.), I heard that Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield would be the Commanding Officer of the International Space Station for the next few months.  I sat rapt, listening to the interview with Commander Hadfield as he explained that he had wanted to be an astronaut since he was ten years old.  I thought – what a great and courageous thing to do – to hang on to your dream, and live it to the fullest.

Commander Hadfield has done one better. He’s chosen to share it with all of us travelling on Earth who had the same dream. 

Just before Christmas a friend of mine tweeted “If you aren’t following @Cmdr_Hadfield you should because it’s totally freaking cool.”

I started to follow, and was treated to an incredible experience.  Through Twitter, Commander Hadfield is documenting everything.  Both inside the ISS and outside.

He’s posted about the day-to-day mundane:

@Cmdr_Hadfield Good Morning, Earth! Eyeball ultrasounds today, leak check and close-out of my heat exchanger plumbing, and robotic refuelling tests. Fun!

I’m glad to see every job has its moments.

He’s posted about the weird aspects of living in space:

@Cmdr_Hadfield If you blow on the weightless sphere of water it distorts, and creates a floating Fun House mirror. pic.twitter.com/gDEdfj7a

He’s posted the most beautiful pictures of our planet that I’ve ever seen:

@Cmdr_Hadfield If Picasso painted lakes… pic.twitter.com/6BoIHnr6

@Cmdr_Hadfield In the lee of the rock – protecting an island of humanity in a sea of orange sand. pic.twitter.com/lATUH0DV

He’s also taken his role as ambassador to space to a new level, from kibitzing with Captain James T. Kirk to dropping the puck on a Leafs game (He’s an astronaut. I will cut him some slack).

It’s as if the Canadian Space Agency has taken an artist, poet, musician and comedian and launched them all into orbit at the same time.

He hasn’t forgotten us all back at home either. He regularly talks with students in schools and asks for questions and ideas from those who are following him from afar:

@Cmdr_Hadfield A quarter million people, following these Tweets from orbit! I am honoured and humbled. Thanks to each of you for your interest and support!

Thank you Commander Hadfield, from one of those following from the giant blue marble Mission Control floating below you.

You have helped those who have never got off the ground feel – for a moment – out of this world.

And if you haven’t started following Commander Hadfield on Twitter yet, you need to. Because it is totally freaking cool.

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Written by pennyinacastle

January 26, 2013 at 2:59 am

Posted in Random thoughts

Tagged with , ,

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