Starman Chris Hadfield records a David Bowie-inspired farewell to space - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 13 May 2013

During the five months he has spent on board the International Space Station, astronaut Chris Hadfield has become an internet superstar.

Starman Chris Hadfield records a David Bowie-inspired farewell to space

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 13 May 2013

Stephen Exley

During the five months he has spent on board the International Space Station, astronaut Chris Hadfield has become an internet superstar.

And yesterday the astronaut had a special treat in store for the growing army of fans awaiting him back on planet Earth.

The Canadian posted a video of himself performing a cover version of pop star David Bowie’s 1969 hit Space Oddity on board the space station.

The video, featuring Commander Hadfield singing and playing the guitar, recorded on board the vessel, has already been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube.

The footage starts with Commander Hadfield singing the song while gazing towards Earth from the space station, which orbits the planet at a speed of 7.71 km per second.

Thanks to the absence of gravity, viewers also see him – and even his guitar – floating around the space station, as well as stunning images of Earth.

Since leaving for space in December, Commander Hadfield has accumulated more than 800,000 followers on Twitter. He has used the social networking website to post hundreds of photos of different parts of the planet as seen from space.

He has also given updates on the progress of his mission and produced videos on how astronauts brush their teeth, shave – and even how to make a peanut butter sandwich in space.

The International Space Station was first launched into space in 1998. It is used as a research laboratory, in which astronauts conduct experiments in subjects such as biology, physics and astronomy. The station has been continuously occupied for more than 12 years.

Commander Hadfield took command of the vessel in March, but yesterday handed over control to Russia’s Pavel Vinogradov.

Shortly afterwards, Commander Hadfield wrote on Twitter: “With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here’s Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World.” Bowie then replied with: “Hallo Spaceboy.”

The song was put together with the help of Emm Gryner, who was a part of the Bowie live band in 1999-2000 and came up with a piano arrangement. Another Canadian, producer Joe Corcoran, then created the recording, including background noises from the space station.

On her blog, Ms Gryner wrote: “You wouldn’t get too many chances to make a recording like this and not only that, to make music with someone who – through his vibrant communications with kids in schools to his breathtaking photos to his always patient and good-humoured demeanor – has done more for science and space than anyone else this generation.”

Commander Hadfield is expected to land back on Earth on Tuesday.

Questions for discussion or further research:

  • How much do you know about the International Space Station? Find out as much as you can about the people who have occupied it and the research that has been conducted there.
  • Many people have come to admire Commander Hadfield. What qualities do you think make him so admirable?
  • What are some of the difficulties that an astronaut might face in space? Make a list and think about possible solutions to these problems.
  • If you were going on a space mission and could only take one song, one book and one film with you, what would they be and why?

Resources for you

Build the space station

  • This group activity from NASA allows students to create their own space station replica.

Space song book

  • This collection of space-related songs and rhymes is ideal for Early Years.

Daily routine in the International Space Station

  • Explore the daily routine of the crew on the ISS and introduce Spanish ‘we’ verbs with this creative resource.

Writing about the International Space Station

  • Take your pupils into space and develop their writing skills with this booklet and support sheets.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week

World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is at the centre of an international row after deciding to boycott an event in Israel.

Scientists in Canada have unearthed a new species of dinosaur that they believe is the oldest in North America and possibly the world.

With students now compelled to study two Shakespeare plays between the ages of 14 and 16, teachers are suggesting that it is better to take inspiration from pop culture and film techniques, rather than reading the plays through from start to finish.

The research arm of technology giant IBM has unveiled the “world’s smallest movie”, an animation made using one of the tiniest constituent parts of the universe, the atom.

In the news archive index