Space odyssey ends in a most peculiar way

A Canadian astronaut whose daughter, Kristin, 26, attends university in Ireland, has said goodbye to life on the International Space Station by making a cover version of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’.

Commander Chris Hadfield, who married his wife Helene in 1981 and has three adult children — Kristin, Evan, and Kyle — chose the sci-fi classic as the swan-song for his five-month mission aboard the station. It has already been viewed more than 2m times.

Hadfield has built up more than 1m followers on Twitter by posting photographs of the Earth from space. He gained a huge following in Ireland, particularly after posting photographs of the country from the space station and tweeting in Irish.

The astronaut’s younger son, Evan, 28, who lives in Germany, said yesterday that his father would be visiting Ireland in the coming months to meet his fans here. “Ireland is easily Dad’s biggest supporter,” said Evan. “We are mystified by it, but the greatest response that could have come from any country came from Ireland.”

He told Ray D’Arcy on Today FM he and his father had decided that the 1969 song would be the most appropriate way to end his space station mission. He said Bowie had been in touch with them and had approved the project, including changed lyrics.

A music video recorded on the space station shows Hadfield playing acoustic guitar and singing. His five-minute rendition of ‘Space Oddity’ stays true to the original, apart from an altered final verse to reflect that: “… Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing left to do.” In contrast, Bowie’s version ends with his alter ego, Major Tom, hurltling helplessly into outer space.

The song plays over footage of Hadfield roaming about the space station, occasionally synchronising with the lyrics “I’m floating in a most peculiar way”.

Hadfield later tweeted his thanks to the Earthlings who helped with the recording.

The astronaut wrote on Twitter: “With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here’s Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World.”

Bowie replied: “Hello Spaceboy.”

Last month, Hadfield thrilled pupils at Sacred Heart Primary School in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, when he phoned them from the International Space Station.

Kristin, who is studying for a PhD at Trinity College Dublin, arranged the phone call, having been invited to Roscrea to launch the school’s website. Hadfield’s eldest child, Kyle, 30, lives in China while he and his wife, Helene, live in Houston along with other astronaut families.

In February, Hadfield sent a message from space to veteran wildlife broadcaster, David Attenborough, asking: “If you had an evening to spend here on the space station, how would you spend it?” Attenborough replied: “I’d just sit and watch the Earth go by — it’s a perspective I’ve never had.”


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