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Space Oddity

A guest post from Kate Campbell-Payne, Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

Chris Hadfield is part of a very exclusive group – he is one of only 194 people in the history of our planet to have walked in the space around it. He’s spent 166 days outside our atmosphere and even recorded an album at 431km above the Earth.

On 9 December 2014, he’s landing at the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester for an on-air chat with BBC Radio 5Live’s Afternoon Edition to discuss his unique career and his stunning new book of photographs, You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes.

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes.
You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes.

The title refers to the time it takes for the International Space Station to orbit the earth, 16 circumnavigations a day taking around an hour and a half each, offering a different perspective to its small band of inhabitants every time. As he writes in the introduction ‘…I never tired of looking out of the window. I don’t think any astronaut ever has, or will. Every chance we have, we float over to see what’s changed since we last went around the Earth.’ In the process he took around 45,000 photographs, capturing the surface of where most we live from a place hardly any of us will ever see.

Hadfield began posting his images on Twitter and soon garnered over 1 million followers. His desire to share his experiences in space with others has meant that he’s become a bit of a social media celebrity with a popular Tumblr blog and YouTube channel (over 24 million people have watched his rendition of Space Oddity performed while floating in space). During a period where space travel has dropped off most people’s radar, Hadfield has reignited the ‘every man’ sense of wonder about space. Rather than focussing on the technology, he has, once again, shown us just how cool being an astronaut really is.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield. Credit: NASA/VICTOR ZELENTSOV
Astronaut Chris Hadfield. Credit: NASA/VICTOR ZELENTSOV

Hadfield’s interview with Dan Walker and Sarah Brett on Afternoon Edition will take place in MOSI’s historic 1830 Warehouse, part of a complex built around the terminus of a very different type of transport, the first passenger railway. He’ll be chatting in front of 50 year 10 students from local schools and answering their questions on life in space. Though retired, Hadfield remains a popular figure with a unique perspective on life.

In a 2013 interview with The Guardian, he revealed one of his philosophies: ‘… if someone is willing to teach you something for free, take them up on it. Do it. Every single time. All it does is make you more likely to be able to succeed. And it’s kind of a nice way to go through life.’ This is great advice, especially with so many fantastic museums nearby. Just like seeing one of Hadfield’s tweets, visiting museums can be a discovery point, a place to see something you’ve never seen before. Who knows where that might lead? Maybe even outer space.