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An open letter to Chris Hadfield


Dear Cmdr. Chris Hadfield,

The words ‘thank you’ don’t seem sufficient for what you have given not only Canadians, but the star-struck and curious the world over.

As long as human beings have walked this crazy planet we call home, we have looked up at the seemingly infinite expanse of lights in the night sky and wondered ‘Why? When? How? How long? How big? How far?’

Our curiosity isn’t one aspect of our humanity, it is our humanity. It is what has, and always will define our successes (and in some cases, our failures). Metaphorically or actually, we are forever reaching for the stars. You not only made it there, you shared it with us.

For decades, except for those lucky enough to work closely with the processes involved, space exploration is an impossibly intangible process to most of the population, something only mentioned on the nightly news, and imagined thereafter. The internet has gone a long way in connecting people all over the world, and now it’s been able to connect us even further.

With your Twitter photographs, your YouTube videos, your question and answer sessions, you nourished curiosity and inspired awe. You wrote us songs, and shared the beauty you got to experience every day of your journey. The experiments you conducted may have furthered science, but the real breakthrough was how you captured our imaginations. We are so lucky to have someone so open, curious, personable and poetic to share that with us.

As referenced in your song ‘ISS (Is Somebody Singing),’ the space exploration program started in fear – at the height of the Cold War, in one of the most volatile times the global community has experienced. Space travel has been riddled with criticism, tragedy and doubt. But now, with fifteen different nations working together on the International Space Station, exploration is no longer for the advancement of a single country but for all of humanity.

From space, you showed us the world what it really is, not as a series of separate countries with imagined differences, but a fragile rock of water and earth spinning in the chaos of the universe. From your bird’s eye view, the earth doesn’t feel so big, so eternal, or so divided; we really are all in this together.

You are a true hero. Welcome back to terra firma, Cmdr. Hadfield, welcome home.

Andrea Gunn

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