Commander Hadfield touches down in Science Gallery for Newstalk interview

14 Dec 2013

Commander Hadfield touches down in the Science Gallery for Newstalk interview

Retired astronaut and tweeter extraordinaire Commander Chris Hadfield paid a flying visit to the Science Gallery today to do a Newstalk interview. Claire O’Connell went along to hear his thoughts, and caught him jamming with the Chieftans.

There can’t be many events that would have crowds gathering before 9.30 on a blustery Saturday morning in December, but a visit from retired astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield is no ordinary occasion.

The excitement was palpable in the free-form queue that built up outside the Science Gallery this morning. Some already had Hadfield’s book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth in hand, others quickly snapped one up once inside the doors.

With the audience seated, Hadfield stood at the back of the lecture theatre and watched a short montage of clips from his time aboard the International Space Station (including that demonstration of what happens when you cry in space) before bounding down the steps to join Newstalk broadcaster Chris Donoghue on stage.

Hadfield recalled how he had wanted from an early age to go to space: Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon inspired the then nine-year-old, who was later delighted when his native Canada set up its space agency.

Career trajectory

Answering an ‘Astronauts wanted’ ad put Hadfield’s career on a trajectory that saw him spend time aboard the ISS, a research station that travels around Earth 16 times every 24 hours at an altitude of about 330-430km.

At the Science Gallery Hadfield spoke about his time in space, how he kept his cool when he was temporarily blinded during a space walk and he saw the funny side (looking back) of the bumpy journey back to terra firma in the Soyuz.

He also described how, many years ago, his options for sharing his experiences and views from space with land-dwellers were limited to a ham radio and a 35mm-film camera, which pale in comparison to the massive opportunities that social media can now offer.

Hadfield, who has approximately one million followers on Twitter, recently tweeted as Gaeilge and posted images of Ireland from the vantage point of the ISS. He also posted his own take on David Bowie’s Space Oddity on YouTube, from the space station.

Immediately after the interview this morning, Hadfield was reunited with The Chieftains for a rendition of Moondance. You can watch the video here.

The interview with Chris Hadfield is to be broadcast on Newstalk 106 to 108 on Monday December 16th at 9am.

Dr Claire O’Connell is a scientist-turned-writer with a PhD in cell biology and a master’s in science communication