Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has just finished up his five-month tour as commander of the International Space Station (ISS), and he’s done a great job of showing how social media can be used as a great educational and public relations tool. Even before going up to the ISS, he had an active presence on Twitter and YouTube, but following his tweets and videos from low-Earth orbit, he’s now a social media superstar with close to a million followers on Twitter.
But it’s his closing video from space, a cover of David Bowie’s 1969 hit “Space Oddity” that has truly brought him to the forefront of popular culture with more than 12 million views, as of today:
Space Oddity by Chris Hadfield
(UPDATE September 2014: The video that acquired all the views had to get taken down one year after it was posted when the purchased rights expired. That problem has since been corrected and the video has now been re-posted. Attention Conspiracy Theorists – It was never David Bowie who insisted that the video be taken down.)
It is worth noting that Hadfield does his own singing and guitar playing in the video, which was produced by his son Evan. (And original artist David Bowie praised the cover on his official Facebook page. He also notes that Emm Gryner, who was a part of Bowie’s band from 1999-2000, worked on the piano arrangement for the video.)
Hadfield had previously recorded an Earth/space music video with the Canadian band the Barenaked Ladies:
Prepping before launch
To produce this:
And he’s done music with another astronaut as well:
“Ride On” Tribute to Sally Ride by astronauts Chris Hadfield and Catherine Coleman
But all this is not just about drawing attention to Hadfield, it’s Hadfield trying to draw a whole new generation into being interested in space travel. So along with all of his space demonstration videos, he’s tweeted images of Earth, life in space, and of the station itself.
As a child of the space age, I have to say I have been totally geeking out on how Hadfield has done such a great job of bringing our world’s space programs to life. I’m also so impressed with what a renaissance man he is, being an astronaut, and educator, and a pretty credible musician.
Hey, even David Bowie likes him…
(The class that I teach using Living in a Media World is called Global Media Literacy. Guess this is a blog post that is truly global.)