Commander Chris Hadfield is arguably the most famous astronaut of the modern era, not just because of his trips to space. He won a massive following using Twitter and Instagram, and even singing David Bowie covers on YouTube.
Now, he’s gathered thousands of photographs he took from space, and whittled them down into a book called “You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes.”
Here are some highlights from our conversation:
You’ve got more than 1 million Twitter followers. They seem to love what you do. Why do you think that is?
Such a tiny little group of people have had a chance, not just to leave the Earth, but to spend half a year off the Earth. Using the capability of social media, with all those followers, [I was able to say], “Hey, if you’re interested, look what we can see from here. Look how you look. You are here.”
At one point, my son sent a note, he said, “Hey, why don’t you ask everybody what they want to see?”
Everybody said, “I want a picture of my home town.” Which made me laugh, because it’s kind of like narcissistic. But then I thought about it. People are proud of where they’re from but also want to see where I’m from a perspective and in proportion to everyone else. I want to see how I fit in.
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) October 15, 2014
What’s next for you? Will we see you piloting a commercial space mission?
I know several of the guys flying… Virgin Galactic. It’s a very interesting commercial first step. It goes straight up and falls straight back down, so it really is just the first step. Sir Richard admits that. But he’s looking for ways to apply it. Maybe it can go straight up and land somewhere else. Maybe we could get from New York to LA in 30 minutes or something.
I don’t think I’m going to be the pilot of it. I’ve been a pilot my whole life and I’ve had such a richness of experience. I flew in space three times, and helped build two space stations, and commanded this one that’s up there.
A little taste of a ride like that would be like a Formula 1 driver going for a quick ride in somebody else’s car, but if someone gives me the opportunity, I”ll go for sure. But I don’t think I’m going to be the pilot.
What’s your favorite space movie?
I really like Galaxy Quest. But I also like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Those are my two favorites.