The first Canadian to walk in outer space, Chris Hadfield, is wrapping up his cross-country tour at Holy Heart Theatre in St. John’s on March 3rd.
If the retired astronaut’s name isn’t ringing a bell, you’re probably more familiar with his image. Hadfield’s first space walk is pictured on the back of the five-dollar bill, he’s illustrated free-floating in classic astronaut chic; a puffy whitesuit and a gargantuan helmet.
The premise of Hadfield’s show is that living outside of Canada and seeing the country from space has given him a unique understanding of Canada. During the performance he’ll talk about the future of Canada, hold a short Q&A, and perform some music. “Since I’ve lived outside of Canada for twenty-six years and I’ve left earth three times and orbited the world about 2600 times, I have an unusual perspective on Canada,” Hadfield explained. “I’ve been away from it, I’ve stood back and looked at it, and I’ve lived in many of its provinces as well.”
While the main focus of the talk will be Canada 150-inspired reflection, Hadfield will also be explaining how his work as an astronaut shaped his beliefs about the country.
He will be devoting a significant chunk of the show to describing his twenty-one years as a Canadian Space Agency astronaut, including what it felt like to see the earth from space.
“To be outside, alone in my space suit, holding on to the outside of a ship with one hand with the eternal, three-dimensionality of the universe all around me and the earth in the distance, silent and huge and beautiful … it was almost a fantastic perspective, right on the edge of a fantasy and yet real,” Hadfield said.
“You go around the entire world every ninety-two minutes, you see all seven and a half billion people every single day.”
In 2013, Hadfield covered David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” onboard the International Space Station while it was in orbit, and posted a video of his performance to YouTube. Hadfield’s cover was the first music video ever recorded in space and it went viral.
While he’s clearly a fan of the song, he doesn’t feel it really captures the experience of spending time in space.
“…David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ or Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ or Simple Plan’s ‘Astronaut’ or the movie Moon – they all use space flight as a metaphor for loneliness, in fact it’s the opposite,” Hadfield said.
“You go around the entire world every ninety-two minutes, you see all seven and a half billion people every single day, you’re in constant communication with mission controls all around the world. You’re out there with group of five other people, working incredibly hard for eighteen hours a day with a huge slate of activities. I’ve never felt more in touch with other people,” Hadfield said.
Since his success with “Space Oddity” Hadfield has recorded a number of other songs. He’ll be incorporating music into his St. John’s gig as a fun way of engaging his audience with the ideas in his talk. “The show is for all ages and it’s had a great reaction from ages six to eighty-six which is exciting to see … I think it’ll be a really interesting evening for anyone there,” Hadfield said. “…I just want to make sure everyone knows how much I’m looking forward to being in Newfoundland.”