IT HAS to be every David Bowie fan’s fantasy: sitting in a tin can far above the world and singing Space Oddity to millions listening below.
On Monday night, this Starman, Commander Chris Hadfield, was preparing for his own fall to Earth from the International Space Station.
The Canadian astronaut became an intergalactic cyberspace sensation yesterday with the release of his performance of the 1969 Bowie classic hit, Space Oddity, recorded 250 miles away.
Playing Major Tom himself and complete with weightless guitar solo, Cmdr Hadfield released the video as he began his descent from the £65 billion outpost.
Edited with background music from a production team at space control, the YouTube track has become an immediate hit, spurred on by messages from the rock legend himself, who greeted the tribute with the words: “Hallo Spaceboy”.
An incredible five-month tour has seen the former fighter pilot become a media personality. High-resolution images beamed down triggered great excitement from Earthlings, not least when Cmdr Hadfield gave a new perspective on the rugged coastline of Scotland and posted them to hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter.
Using a huge 400mm camera lens, he captured Skye – “a stirring landscape” – along with the islands of Canna, Rum, Eigg and Muck to the south.
Cmdr Hadfield also snapped the snow-capped peaks of “the bonnie, bonnie hills of Loch Lomond”, conversing with First Minister Alex Salmond, saying he hoped to visit Scotland when he was “back on Earth”.
“For most people, the highest they ever get is to climb a mountain or get in an aeroplane to see what lies beyond the normal two dimensions on the surface of the world”, he said of his images. “I have the opportunity to get as far away as we are here and to go around the world every 90 minutes.”
Cmdr Hadfield, a veteran of two previous missions, created 60 YouTube videos capturing the mundane and fascinating aspects of life in space.
He taught viewers why a candle burns with a round flame in zero gravity, why tears do not fall in space and how he shaves his now-famous moustache. A video of him brushing his teeth has been watched 554,000 times.
He also took part in question-and-answer sessions with viewers from Earth, sang along with schoolchildren from space and chatted with Captain Kirk himself, actor William Shatner.
The Canadian Space Agency has added quirky graphics and music to his videos, but it was his sons, Kyle, 29, and Evan, 27, who have helped him to become a social media star.
Kyle came up with the idea to get his father’s message out through Twitter, and Evan occupies “mission control” from his home in Darmstadt, Germany.
“Dad wanted a way to help people connect the real side of what an astronaut’s life is – not just the glamour and science,” said Evan.
Commander Hadfield is due to land in Kazakhstan today.