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Lunch Dates: Chris Hadfield

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What’s so enthralling about another guy on YouTube? For one thing, he made videos in space.

Sometimes I’ll take a minute between classes and “look” for the ISS with this and then “look out” the ISS window with this. I think most little kids (and many bigger kids) wonder about space and going in a rocket ship somewhere. Few people actually get to experience it. The first astronauts were declared heroes, advancing nations in their quest for knowledge and competition and technology. Current astronauts (at least, in the U.S.) get little to no recognition unless tragedy strikes. Somehow, this guy is different. He’s wired-in.

In case you’ve been missing his tweets, his YouTube videos, and a bunch of news articles (and it would be so, so sad if you haven’t seen them), Chris Hadfield has recently left the ISS as the first Canadian commander of the space station. He just strikes me as an interesting guy. C’mon… he’s singing David Bowie as one of his last submissions from orbit. That can only come from a person with whom I’d like to have lunch.

Major nerd-crush here.

Hadfield (and two other astronauts, Roman Romanenko and Tom Marshburn) just returned from space, landing in Kazakhstan via a Soyuz capsule. He says that being in space was too good to keep to himself.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I (and so many other people) are drawn to his videos. In space. He’s just doing his job. In space. But really, he’s answering simple questions, doing complex research, and acting like a real person. In space. Clearly, he’s not just an everyday guy. He’s military-trained, a test pilot, has an advanced degree, is a Commander. In space. But through his time in videos, it feels like you can ask him anything. He’s not judgemental or condescending. I’d like to think that he knows just how many people want to try out what he did. It’s a kind of charisma, I guess. In space. It goes along with this video (which I’ve posted before) from Dr. Tyson, regarding stopping dreaming:

Random side note: spell check recognizes “YouTube” and “Soyuz” but not “WordPress”. Heh.

Questions and thoughts for lunch conversation:

  • What were the coolest three things that you could do on the ISS? What will you miss?
  • What were the most mundane or annoying things you did on the ISS?
  • What did you miss most on Earth (besides family, I’m sure)?
  • Other astronauts have sent videos back to Earth, aimed at schoolkids, but they haven’t really been popular (or viral). Why do you think yours are such a draw?
  • Are there similar videos by other ISS members (for Russian audiences, etc.)?
  • If you’re online, what are your favorite or most frequently visited websites?
  • Are most transactions on the ISS are in English? How much Russian did you learn?
  • What makes for a good astronaut, and what makes for a good ground-crew member?
  • On the station, how do you monitor or record or keep track of the 100+ experiments? Do you find out the results, or just take data?
  • Did your military training prepare you well for this kind of task? Would you say that military people make better astronauts?
  • What’s the way to encourage education (and science education) in classrooms?
  • Who was your favorite teacher in school? Why?
  • How did you get into YouTube and Twitter in the first place?
  • If your face and nasal passages swell in space, does the food really taste all that good (or bad)?
  • Would you like to go back into space?
  • What’s next?
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