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Astronaut Hadfield makes space the new frontier of cool

Canada has a new hero: a singing social media wizard who inspired us from orbit.
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Gord Woodward, May 13, 2013 6:41:32 PM

Let the Chris Hadfield for Prime Minister campaign begin!

Canada’s favourite astronaut (no slight intended to his colleagues at the Canadian Space Agency. Whoever they are.) has become the country’s newest hero, a relatable rocket man who has done the unthinkable: made astronomy cool.

As the first Canuck commander of the International Space Station, he’s inspired young and old alike, amassed some 820,000 followers on Twitter, and sent more geeks scurrying for their telescopes than the time Mila Kunis was rumoured to be attending Comic-Con.

Hadfield even wowed us with a literally-out-of-this-world performance of David Bowie’s classic Space Oddity, recorded on his final day in space. The YouTube hit racked up nearly two million views in 24 hours and proved that, for an astronaut, he’s a pretty decent singer. Earlier this month, Hadfield performed what was described as the “very first Canada-wide simultaneous space-to-Earth participatory broadcast,” when he teamed with fellow Canadian Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies on the tune I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing) which they co-wrote.

Now, given that our starman showed during his five months in the heavens a star quality, he’s going to be hot commodity back here on terra firma.

You can bet politicians of all stripes will be begging him to join their causes, as he’s popular enough to be named prime minister (though, to be fair, anyone not named Stephen Harper would be considered a favourite too). But let’s hope he resists. For when it comes to intelligent debate, politics is even more of a vacuum than space. And after a few weeks of sitting with those alien life forms in Parliament, he’d be crying for a return to the outer reaches of the atmosphere, where it’s a little less bleak.

Advertisers too will be lining up, flashing wads of money in return for the chance to tie his name to their products. And entertainers, hoping some of his space cred rubs off on them, will start sending shout-outs Hadfield’s way. (It would be fitting if The Biebs were the first, given that neither of them has been on planet Earth for a while.)

He can even expect astronaut groupies to make all kinds of propositions, in hopes of boosting their number of “missions completed.” (A little tip, Mr. Hadfield: Don’t open any note from Lisa Nowak.)

No matter what he chooses to do, the good commander has earned his place in history, boosted our country’s image around the globe, and proven worthy of the title of hero (though using it on his business card would be a tad un-Canadian).

He’s made sacrifices for the benefit of others. He’s done it because he believes in the work, not just the rewards, which so far have amounted to getting to keep that new $5 bill he unveiled while on the space station (a pittance compared with all the time he has spent since then trying to convince the other astronauts it really is legal currency).

He has, in short, made us proud to have him as one of our own.

And who’s the last prime minister you could say that about?

Image credit: NASA

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