Ground Control to Commander Chris Hadfield

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Did you see this video? The one of astronaut Chris Hadfield in orbit singing a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity". You can see it at Now, here are a few more facts to consider about Hadfield. He's on his way back after five months at the helm of the International Space Station. He's also the first Canadian to command the mission so far and he's been documenting his time in space via social media. That includes posting videos of the more mundane aspects of life in space.

[Clip plays]

Chris Hadfield: Brushed my teeth just like normal. Get 'em all, especially the ones in the back. You should brush your teeth for as long as you can sing "Happy Birthday". That should be long enough. OK. So now what I'm gonna do, I've got a mouth-load of toothpaste stuff, so what I do is I just swallow the toothpaste. That's how you brush your teeth in space.

[Clip ends]

Werman: And all this time I thought you're not supposed to swallow your toothpaste. Well, we reached out to Chris Hadfield's unofficial social media manager, Evan Hadfield. That's his son. Evan, we just heard you dad brushing his teeth. He also has shown viewers how to cut hair in zero gravity, how to exercise, how to make peanut butter sandwiches in zero gravity. Very entertaining. If this astronaut thing doesn't work out he could be an entertainer. I gather that the idea for your dad's social media campaign started over the kitchen table? Explain that.

Evan Hadfield: It sort of developed from a family dinner where we were discussing what dad could do to get people interested in seeing what behind-the-scenes astronaut life is like and he really wanted people to be able to get that connection to him.

Werman: Evan, I heard this amazing statistic that Chris, your dad, is one of three astronauts in the entire Canadian space agency.

Hadfield: There's three astronauts currently — him, Jeremy Hanson, and David Saint-Jacques, but that's because a lot have recently retired and we're hiring new classes to come in, so it's sort of a transition period.

Werman: Mm. But the CSA has experienced also a ten percent across-the-board budget cut this last year. Are you hoping that the buzz that you're generating from social media will raise interest in the space station and the Canadian Space Agency?

Hadfield: If the public forgets that we're going to space, if they forget the reasons we're going to space and they think that it becomes either commonplace or unnecessary, then we lose our space program and I think that's an absolute shame considering all it has given us.

Werman: And what do you say to the naysayers who believe that money should be kept down here on earth?

Hadfield: Well, do they like cordless power drills? Those were invented for the space program. Your personal computer wouldn't exist without the investment in the space program. There's an unbelievable amount of things that you're using in your day-to-day life that wouldn't exist without the space program.

Werman: So your dad lands back on earth tomorrow in Kazakhstan. He's been in space for a year. What has he told you he's looking forward to the most coming back to earth?

Hadfield: He keeps switching it, but I'm sure it's a hot shower.

Werman: Right.

Hadfield: In space you sponge-bathe and sponge baths are not satisfying.

Werman: Growing up with a dad who's an astronaut, what kind of conversations happened at the kitchen table?

Hadfield: Probably less exciting ones than you'd imagine.

Werman: Don't let me down. What was the most exciting moment around the kitchen table?

Hadfield: Ugh, I wish it were more exciting honestly. When he gets home he's just dad, he's just a guy. He's got to go to the bathroom and eat food too, so . . .

Werman: Yeah, but you must have known before all the other kids in your class how to brush your teeth in zero gravity?

Hadfield: Yes, I definitely figured that one out quite early.

Werman: Let's get back to your dad's rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity". I mean it's really entertaining. Who was the talented astronaut on board who shot the multiple angles for this video?

Hadfield: I believe it was a little tripod or his arm carrying it. Usually they don't have two astronauts doing one shoot just because . . .

Werman: 'Cuz you wanted it?

Hadfield: Yeah, my requests don't go through that way.

Werman: Evan Hadfield, son of Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield, one of the coolest dads in this galaxy. Chris Hadfield returns to earth tomorrow, landing in Kazakhstan. Evan, great to speak with you. Thanks a lot.

Hadfield: Thank you for having me.

[Clip plays]

Chris Hadfield: [singing "Space Oddity"] This is Ground Control to Major Tom. You've really made the grade. And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear. But it's time to guide the capsule if you dare.