Astronaut puts New Zealand at the top

Published on : Friday, December 20, 2013

Canadian-astronaut-Chris-HadfieldCanadian astronaut and internet celebrity Chris Hadfield, who circled the earth for five months, posting photographs and tweeting from space, says New Zealand is the country that he most wants to visit.

Commander Hadfield made social media history with his breath-taking photos and commentaries posted from the international space station, and became a YouTube sensation with his cover version of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ which has since received 18 million online views.

His photos of the earth – as seen from beyond the atmosphere and tweeted to his million-plus following – included stunning images of New Zealand mountains, lakes and coastlines which he described as “a very photogenic part of the world.”

New Zealand, Hadfield said in an interview with BBC World News, represented the last landmass that the astronauts viewed before travelling east over the Pacific Ocean.

“It’s so beautiful … after you’ve crossed New Zealand you have the long passage across the Pacific so it’s your real last sight of land for what’s going to be – gosh, it takes almost a half an hour to cross the Pacific – so looking at New Zealand, it’s just beautiful,” Hadfield told presenter Lucy Hockings.

Hadfield named New Zealand’s southern wine regions and the North Island as the regions that he would most like to visit.

“The wine country of the South Island, and the north end of New Zealand – it just looks so beautiful … and the beautiful volcanic mountain just on the south end of the North Island.”

Hadfield, who took about 45,000 pictures while in space, picked the best ones to post on Twitter including a variety of New Zealand landforms, notably Mt Taranaki, Lake Taupo in the central North Island, Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf.

“When I saw one that really came out nicely I would then tweet it immediately to the earth.”

Television interview

In the television interview, now also posted online, Hadfield discusses seeing the earth from space, why New Zealand is the one place on earth he’d most like to visit, and how to open a can of nuts in zero gravity.

While he describes the ‘Space Oddity’ video as “just a weekend project” with his son, Hadfield also admits to delight at the worldwide reaction to it.

“The mix of the art of David Bowie and the reality of what we’re doing on the space station has just been mesmerizing for so many people.”

For Hadfield, sharing his experiences via social media realised a childhood dream.
“I was fantasizing about it [space] as a nine-year-old kid, and I would have loved to have had the chance to meet with an astronaut and to be brought on board the lunar lander the way that it’s possible now.”

When he was chosen 21 years ago as an astronaut, Hadfield said that he resolved that “if I ever get the chance I am going to do my absolute best to use the technology to share my experience. It’s too rare to keep to oneself.”

Since returning to earth in May after five months on board the international space station, Hadfield has retired from active duty in space and published his second book – An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.

Background: Commander Chris Hadfield

Commander Chris Hadfield, a former test pilot and aeronautical engineer, was selected for Canada’s space programme in 1992.

The first Canadian to walk in space, Chris Hadfield completed three space missions. He retired from the space programme in June 2013.

Published in October 2013, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth (Pan Macmillan) recounts his life story (thus far) which takes him from boyhood in Ontario to adventures and learning in space.

Source:- Tourism New Zealand

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