The Real Rocket Man

Chris Hadfield is a national treasure. The mustachioed native of Sarnia, Ontario, quick with a smile, joyfully announced that his new album, Songs from a Tin Can, is available on Spotify. “Those are words I never thought I’d say,” he tweeted Oct. 19. “Cool!”

What makes the album even cooler is that it was recorded in part while Hadfield was aboard the International Space Station, which provided the background for one of his best known songs, a re-imagination of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

So when will the rest of us have the chance to follow in his footsteps and take a trip out of Earth’s orbit, to the moon or Mars or beyond?

Commander Chris Hadfield and Michael Hainsworth show off a Hadfield guitar pickIn a recent interview with our own Michael Hainsworth on BNN, the retired astronaut sadly predicts we’re at least 15-20 years away from commercial space travel being possible, with an even longer time to wait before we’re taking trips to space as casually as we hop on a jet to travel between cities.

On the announcement that scientists have confirmed the presence of not just frozen but occasional liquid (albeit briney) water on the surface of Mars, Hadfield calls the news “one giant step closer to thinking about maybe there’s actual Martian life,” adding that it’s “one more big draw to have us get to Mars as soon as the technology will let us.”

It’s the advancement of technology that should drive our trip to Mars, he says, instead of pushing an arbitrary deadline for putting footsteps on the red planet. Namely, NASA and other space agencies need better engines that rely on something other than chemical rockets for propulsion, but the technology isn’t mature yet.

IMG_2049Chemical rockets are “ok for getting us off the surface and maybe it’s ok for getting us to the moon. The moon’s only three days away,” he says. Engines would have to go through a technological evolution “like going from propellers to jets” to make traveling over longer distances not just possible, but practical.

To see the rest of the interview, in which he discusses Elon Musk’s grand scheme to recycle rockets and the lack of hoverboards, go here.

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