Chris Hadfield

Former Military Test-Pilot, Astronaut

Chris Hadfield is a former military test pilot-turned-astronaut. He was the first Canadian to command the International Space Station (ISS). He became famous for his use of social media whilst aboard the ISS, sending back videos and images from the mission, including posting his performance of David Bowie’s Space Oddity on YouTube.

Joining the Royal Canadian Air Cadets as a teenager, Chris started flying at 15 before leaving the family farm to join the armed forces. He flew fighters for the Canadian Air Force and flight-tested the latest generation of planes, including advanced prototypes, as well as researching and studying aeronautics and aviation systems.

Selected by the Canadian Space Agency, Chris served as a NASA astronaut for 21 years. He crewed the Space Shuttle to dock with and build the Russian space station, Mir. He led communications with astronauts from Mission Control on 25 Space Shuttle missions and went on to be NASA’s Director in Russia. On his second space mission he performed two spacewalks, during which he was blinded by contamination.

On Chris’ third spaceflight, this time as pilot of the Russian Soyuz, he took command of the ISS. His crew set records for scientific work completed, as well as doing an emergency spacewalk to fix a serious external ammonia leak. He also actively engaged with the public back on Earth via social media; his images of the planet, updates on life on the ISS, and videos became a phenomenon. Along with 1.5 million Twitter followers he became a YouTube star with performances of Jewel in the Night, the first original song ever recorded in space and released on Christmas Eve 2012, and David Bowie’s Space Oddity which has received over 30 million views.

After a 35-year military and civilian career, Chris retired from service after he returned to Earth. He has received multiple national and academic honours from Canada and around the world. His best-selling book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth reviewed his life and career and the useful lessons learned in leadership, teamwork and achievement. He also published a best-selling book of Earth images called You Are Here, and a children’s book, The Darkest Dark.