Hello Reddit!

My name is Chris Hadfield. I am an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency who has been living aboard the International Space Station since December, orbiting the Earth 16 times per day.

You can view a pre-flight AMA I did here. If I don't get to your question now, please check to make sure it wasn't answered there already.

The purpose of all of this is to connect with you and allow you to experience a bit more directly what life is like living aboard an orbiting research vessel.

You can continue to support manned space exploration by following daily updates on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. It is your support that makes it possible to further our understanding of the universe, one small step at a time.

To provide proof of where I am, here's a picture of the first confirmed alien sighting in space.

Ask away!

Thanks everyone for the great questions! I have to be up at 06:00 tomorrow, with a heavy week of space science planned, so past time to drift off to sleep. Goodnight, Reddit!

Comments: 7487 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

ken272382771 karma

I know everyone is wondering the same things I am:

  • What is the process of using the internet on the ISS? Is it a direct connection to a station on the ground or does it bounce off of NASA/Russian/ESA satellites?

  • What are the connection speeds like? Ping time?

  • Can you use Skype or other "mainstream" sites/applications?

And a random question:

  • what part of Earth are you over right now?

On a side note, BEST AMA PROOF EVER!!!!!

ColChrisHadfield3645 karma

My laptop here onboard communicates to a server in Houston via satellite relay, and that server on the ground is hooked through a computer to the internet. The data rate is very slow, not fast enough to watch video, but perfect for things like Reddit and Twitter. We have the data link about half the time.

No Skype, but when we have the right communications links I can directly access the internet in Mission Control, Houston, and Tweet and do this AMA real-time. We have that link many times, every day. It's a great capability to have, really lets the crew keep in touch.

Currently just off the Western coast of Australia in the Indian Ocean.

sinsyder-2434 karma

Quit throwing rocks at Russia. Assuming that wasn't actually you did you notice any activity from your vantage point?

ColChrisHadfield2430 karma

We didn't see the meteorite that did all the damage in Russia, as we were on the other side of the Earth. But I see small ones burn up between ISS and the earth every day.

overexcitedangrymom2219 karma

oh gosh! it's started, i'm late!

My daughter Rhegan asks 'When are we going back to the moon?'

also, in anticipation of your AMA she has been talking about astronauts all morning and told her 3 year old sister, that you have to have a suit, and be in a rocket, and go up into space, before you can be an astronaut. what are your thoughts on her prerequisites?

edit: she's 7, and so far, space exploration is the only interest she has remained consistent on. drumming and golf apparently don't compare.

ColChrisHadfield3129 karma

To be an astronaut you have to be healthy (eat your greens and exercise), smart (do your homework), and trustworthy (do your jobs well). Then you get the suit and rocket.

ColChrisHadfield2556 karma

We have robot ships at the Moon, on Mars, and by every planet in the Solar System. We'll go to the Moon in person again as soon as we've learned all we can on ISS, and have solid, reliable engines to take us there and back.

Can you invent those engines? You have an entire life to do it in. Then you could ride them, and stand on another world.

Captain_Username1875 karma

Have you ever considered organising a mutiny, deorbiting the ISS and sailing the infinite void of space?

ColChrisHadfield2357 karma

Those are several bad ideas :) We're here for a pretty pure purpose, on behalf of everyone else. Keeps mutinies to a minimum.

swordbladepirate1733 karma

Hey Commander, thanks for taking the time to do the coolest AMA in history.

  • What is your opinion on the privatization of space?
  • What is your favorite experiment that you're working on right now?

Also, thanks for taking all the pictures of Earth and putting them on Twitter.

ColChrisHadfield1954 karma

Privatization is the right and natural way to go, and we are on the cusp of it now. We have a Space X Dragon coming to ISS in 2 weeks, we'll grab it with Canadarm2.

My favorite experiment is BCAT - looking at the behaviour of nanoparticles and structures and how they form without the weight of gravity.

SucculentFriend1697 karma

Thanks for your ongoing communications on Reddit, Twitter, and elsewhere. It's almost unbelievable that we live in an age where wireless communication between me on my couch and you in orbit are possible.

My question: what does space smell like? Is your sense of smell altered at all being up there?

ColChrisHadfield2057 karma

The vacuum of space has no smell, but when we come in from a spacewalk the airlock smells like ozone, or gunpowder. It likely comes from the gentle offgassing of the outer metal and fabric of our suits.

SilverSeven1606 karma

You mentioned on Twitter that the ISS is peppered with meteors but has armour. Do you hear them hit? What about things like the solar panels? They look delicate.

ColChrisHadfield2190 karma

Sometimes we hear pings as tiny rocks hit our spaceship, and also the creaks and snaps of expanding metal as we go in and out of sunlight. The solar panels are full of tiny holes from the micro-meteorites.

mcsgwigga1574 karma

What is the scariest thing you have seen whilst in space?

ColChrisHadfield2541 karma

I watched a large meteorite burn up between me and Australia, and to think of that hypersonic dumb lump of rock randomly hurtling into us instead sent a shiver up my back.

fracking-awesome1571 karma

My 10yo son asks:

"Do you need special computers to work up there?"

also, he was very impressed with the night photo of Calgary you posted - we could see our house :-)

ColChrisHadfield1719 karma

We have special computers that run the spaceship, yes, but they are based on normal Earth computers. To AMA I am just using a regular laptop. It's the connection that is like magic.

unfortunatelyhuman1478 karma

Which part of the world looks the coolest from space?

ColChrisHadfield2621 karma

Australia looks coolest - the colours and textures of the Outback are severly artistic. The most beautiful to me are the Bahamas, the vast glowing reefs of every shade of blue that exists.

bigdubsy1420 karma

If you discover intelligent life, who should play you in the movie?

ColChrisHadfield3192 karma

Someone with a good moustache.

Dinocalypse1334 karma

What’s the funniest thing that happened to you on the ISS?

DetlefKroeze1249 karma

And the most embarrassing?

ColChrisHadfield2305 karma

During my 2nd spaceflight, while doing a live National TV News broadcast, I forgot the name of the Space Shuttle Commander. He always went by his nickname of Rommel, and to come up with Kent Rominger somehow escaped me. Instead, I said Ken Cameron, the CDR of my 1st flight. Oops.

Idrialis1327 karma

Thanks Commander. I enjoy a lot your pictures from space. My question is: How hard is to sleep out there in space?

What would happen if any of you get appendicities or tooth pain or any other pain?

Thanks from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

ColChrisHadfield2134 karma

I love sleeping weightless. No mattress, no pillow, no sore shoulder, no hot spots. Just relax every muscle in your body and drift off to sleep.

I'm trained as an EMT, and Tom is a doctor, plus we have a basic pharmacy onboard. If it were really bad, we'd get in our Soyuz and return to Earth.

chiefbos1290 karma

  • What time zone do you live by? Do you switch off the lights at "night"?

ColChrisHadfield1879 karma

We live on Greenwich time, UTC, same as London England. We shut of most lights at bedtime - it feels right to do it.

johnkeenan2181212 karma

Howdy sir. I just wanted to first of all say thank you for doing this, easily the coolest AMA in Reddit's history. My question:

What's your favorite thing to do in zero G that you can't do on earth?

ColChrisHadfield2188 karma

Simply fly - to push off and glide magically to the other end of the Station. It makes me smile to myself, every time.

quinleigh1062 karma

Hi, I am 8 years old. How long did it take you to not get lost inside the space station? What is one experiment you are helping with that you really like?

ColChrisHadfield1685 karma

I never get lost in the Space Station, but I often have to look around to decide which way I want to use as 'up' right now. Maybe this is how fish and spiders feel.

I did a Japanese art experiment to view the world in floating drops of water, and make HD video of it. It was fun and beautiful.

Stue31121051 karma

In your opinion, what space exploration missions should be given priority?

ColChrisHadfield1861 karma

The ones that the taxpayers want. My job is to perform them as efficiently and creatively as I can, like what I'm doing today, and during these 5 months.

minimoose1441997 karma

Hello Commander Hadfield! I am Flight Sargent Ball from 386 Komox RCAC Squadron. You were our Reviewing Officer for our annual parade back in 2006 (Or 2007). Unfortunately, I was not in cadets at that time, but I've been told it was an amazing experience to have a successful cadet come back and be our RO. Thank you for your service and dedication!

Being a cadet, I was wondering about your experiences in the program. What would you say was your greatest achievement in the Air Cadet program? We're you apart of any other activities (Biathlon, Range, Band, etc.) in cadets aside from the regular training night? I'm teaching the Level 1's at my squadron soon, is there anything you would to tell them about the program and your experiences in it? A few follow you on Twitter, so I'm sure anything I can relay to them would be a huge boost for them.

Thanks for your time!

ColChrisHadfield1324 karma

Air Cadets in Canada is a superb program for people between 13 and 18. It taught me self disipline, leadership and how to fly, and directly laid the groundwork for where I am floating today. Per Ardua Ad Astra.

econleech958 karma

Commander Hadfield,

For some time now I've been searching for pictures of what the sky looks like outside of the atmosphere to the naked eyes. I am curious what the equivalent of what of this picture is from space without the atmosphere. I have not had much luck with it.

There's been tons of pictures of Earth from ISS and of distance galaxies from Hubble. I find all those pictures fascinating, but what the space looks like to you still eludes me. Can you, or your colleagues, correct that short coming for me?

ColChrisHadfield2287 karma

It looks like a carpet of countless tiny perfect unblinking lights in endless velvet, with the Milky Way as a glowing area of paler texture.

ShesGotSauce950 karma

I absolutely love you and your gorgeous photos and have followed you on FB since your first AMA.

  1. What is the temperature on ISS? Can you change it to your comfort or is it permanently set?

  2. What do you shave with? If an electric razor, how do you keep the bits of hair from floating all over the place and getting breathed in?

  3. Any chance you'll put together a coffee table book when you get back? I would love a permanent, hard copy of your stunning photos to keep for life.

  4. How is your family doing? Nervous still, or relaxed at this point?

  5. You're awesome! Thank you SO much for this amazing glimpse into our world, from your world.

ColChrisHadfield1628 karma

We can adjust the temp, but we keep it comfortable room temp, good for working out and living, sleeping.

No coffee table book planned, but you never know :)

I shave with cream and a standard multi-blade, just wipe it on a cloth every time, works fine

My family is fine - in fact my son Evan is helping support my social media, and taught me how to use Reddit. My other son is in China and turns 30 tomorrow (Happy Birthday Kyle!) and my daughter is in Ireland. I talked with my wife today, she's fine too - all were at launch in Kazakhstan.

ahrenbrunow838 karma

Hi Chris,

Greetings from Toronto. I have a couple questions:

1) Do you conduct science on the ISS every day? Or are there rest days?

2) What is the biggest danger you face while living in space?

3) Do you think vacationing in space will become a reality for the average person? If so, when?



ColChrisHadfield1340 karma

We conduct science every day, but are lighter-loaded on Sat/Sun.

The biggest danger is launch - all that power and acceleration. Once we survive that, it's just a steady threat of radiation, meteorite impacts, and vehicle system failure like fire or ammonia breakthrough.

We need better engines for spaceflight to be safer and simpler, and thus cheaper. Like the difference to cross the Atlantic in a prop vs a jet airplane.

schlitzer90820 karma

How long did it take you to learn how to maneuver in zero gravity? Are you much better at it now than when you originally came aboard the ISS?

ColChrisHadfield1807 karma

I'm still learning! But sometimes now, I am graceful. I feel like an adapted ape swinging through the jungle canopy ... until I miss a handrail and crash into the wall.

jczik762 karma

How much privacy do you and the rest of the astronauts get while aboard the ISS? It doesn't seem like there are many places you can go to be alone other than the bathroom.

ColChrisHadfield1255 karma

I'm typing now in my 'Sleep Station', a small padded room with a door, completely private, like a bedroom without the bed, and phone booth sized.

ytalmazan605 karma

Commander, you are single handedly resurrecting people's interest and curiosity about space with your social media presence and passion for what you do. Unfortunately, it seems with the scrapping of the Space Shuttle program, people's interest in spacial exploration has been largely dwindling. What do you think NASA, other space agencies and astronauts need to do to keep people informed and interested in the science of space exploration? Thank you.

ColChrisHadfield867 karma

There's always positive and negative. We lost a crew early in Apollo, and the last 2 Moon landings were cancelled even though the rockets were built. Skylab decayed and fell from the sky before the Shuttle could be made ready to fly.

We've endured accidents, budget cycles, and many naysayers. But meanwhile we have accomplished countless acts of magnificence, from walking on the Moon to Hubble teaching us about the universe, to international cooperation, to Curiosity drilling on Mars, to permanently leaving Earth on ISS.

I'm working as hard as I can to help that all happen, and have been for 20 years. It's hard to leave home, but we're managing to do it as a species, regardless. Pretty amazing.

LeopardKhan567 karma

Following you on Twitter is both mind-boggling and fantastic. Thank you from Dublin!

If I was going into space tomorrow as a tourist, what would you recommend I try first?

ColChrisHadfield1010 karma

Try to look out the window as often and as long as possible. Truly see our world.

samjuan546 karma

Do you ever get the urge to point and shout out "Look! I can see my house from here!"? (Side question: Do you actually do it?

ColChrisHadfield1472 karma

At first, yes, but after a few days, you start to see the whole world as one place. An awesome perspective to be given.

okcnyyfan511 karma

Have you done any space walks? If so, what was it like?

ColChrisHadfield2017 karma

I was Canada's first spacewalker, doing 2 to help build the mighty Canadarm2 robot onto ISS. It was the most magnificent experience of my life. Alone in a 1-person spaceship (my suit), just holding on with my 1 hand, with the bottomless black universe on my left and the World pouring by in technicolor on my right. I highly recommend it.

Shamble355501 karma

Good afternoon Colonel Hadfield (or whatever afternoon it is on the ISS). My name is Connor Childerhose and I'm a student at Carleton University in Ottawa Ontario. I have a question for you that does not directly relate to the experience of being on the ISS but is still important to me anyway. I represent the Canadian Engineering Competition which is being held in March and we were wondering if it would be at all possible to contact you aboard the station during the competition? It runs from March 8th-March 10th and would mean the world to the engineering competitors if you are able to do this for us.

ColChrisHadfield768 karma

Please contact the Cdn Space Agency to set it up, at their website. They will try and fit it into the existing plans if they can. It would be good if we could!

Wishbiscuit460 karma

I'm wondering how often do you hit your head off things on daily basis?

Also I watch you guys fly over every chance I get, thanks for being awesome.

ColChrisHadfield784 karma

I hit my head about once per day :)

hostergaard396 karma

So, sleeping in space weightless, what is dreaming like?

ColChrisHadfield1019 karma

My dreams are the same, I think - the idle ramble of my recharging brain, organizing my perceptions into fancy and drama. It's when I'm awake that things are very different :)

sehrguht396 karma

Ever listen to Space Oddity while you are up there?

ColChrisHadfield1052 karma

Yes, I love Bowie, and I've been singing and playing that song. Changed the words a bit, though, so Major Tom has a happier ending.

victoriabuzz347 karma

What's your favourite space food?

ColChrisHadfield931 karma

I have a new one - lemon curd cake. A sin to eat, but we're short on sin up here, so I think it's OK.

blprnt_ocr336 karma


Easy question, hard question:

1) Will NASA be publishing a book of all of your photos from space? Or an app? I'd love to see all of the images in one place.

2) You've received a bit of criticism in Canada for not using your lofty position to educate about big global issues - most specifically climate change. Is there a reason you don't tweet about/talk about these clearly important things?

Thanks for doing this.


ColChrisHadfield847 karma

All the pictures I take are for everyone, and available here: http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/

If seeing the world with our own eyes as one place, vivdly, daily, doesn't educate people on global issues, what will?

hypodermia328 karma

What sort of camera do you use? Thanks for doing this!

ColChrisHadfield621 karma

we use Nikon D2 and D3 SLR cameras with lenses from 400mm to fish-eye.

wildmanners286 karma

Hi Chris, tell us a bit about the song you recorded with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, ISS Is Somebody Singing? Which lines did you write? And is there a place for us to download the song? Edit: song/video is here: http://www.cbc.ca/live/intergalactic-collaboration-chris-hadfield-ed-robertson-premiere-iss.html

ColChrisHadfield380 karma

I wrote the 1st version of the song, Ed used a bunch of my ideas for the main lyric and came up with that awesome melody, I wrote the 2nd verse, Ed chose the bridge. We worked together, and Ed is just a wonderful Canadian guy. I really like what we did, and the Coalition for Music Education is doing a lot of good for young Canadians with it.

popeydc273 karma

Hi Col Hadfield.

Do you ever feel like you lack privacy up there? How do you deal with that?

(My kids are loving going outside and watching you guys/gals fly over of an evening)

Thanks for inspiring a new generation with your photos, videos and Q&As.

ColChrisHadfield559 karma

Privacy here is about the same as how I grew up - one of five kids in a farmhouse. It's never a problem.

Zsnakejake234 karma

What is your favorite picture of earth (or anything you've captured)?

Also, what is your favorite thing you've ever witnessed first hand (be it captured on camera or not)?

ColChrisHadfield487 karma

My favourite picture is of noctilucent cloud - to me it is both beautiful and scientific. I never thought I'd even see those rare phenomena, let alone get a top-notch photo of them.

You can see the photo here.

amitch95168 karma

Any advice to a young person who wants to get into this field?

ColChrisHadfield1016 karma

Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that. Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you'd be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in. Don't let life randomly kick you into the adult you don't want to become.

blackxs162 karma

How long does it take to readjust from living in 0G?

ColChrisHadfield276 karma

About 1 day back on Earth for every day weightless. Some things come back quicker, but bones and muscles take time to truly recover.

Redditinstrike131 karma

Hello Col Chris Hadfield, this is my first time ever writing on an AMA, I am happy you gave us this opportunity to talk to you from space :)

my question is, have you ever got across a historical space waste (like the thrusters from Apollo 11)

and if you have bumped into the tons of space waste orbiting earth, is it possible to bring it back to earth?

(BTW, I chuckled when I saw your video of how to wash your hands in space, the liquid soap was called Pouch Assy :P)

thank you so much for your time I hope that your mission in space is successful!

ColChrisHadfield226 karma

The Earth is hit by 100 tons of debris a day, most of it natural, a small fraction man-made. We maneuver the Space Station out of the way when NORAD tells us debris may come too close to us.

consumeradvocacy126 karma

What do you think the next step for space exploration should be? Do you think sending a manned mission back to the moon to establish a moon base is feasible at this point?

ColChrisHadfield281 karma

As a species, we have always taken the very best of our technology and used it to take us to the furthest reaches of our knowledge - the horse, the wheel, the sailing ship, steamship, propellor, jet, rocket, Space Station. Yes, we will establish a permanent base on the Moon and beyond, but when depends on inventions not yet made.

My guess is that power generation is the primary obstacle, and fossil fuels and even solar power won't be enough. Meanwhile, the Space Station is the crucible where space exploration technology is designed and tested. When we go further out, it will be heavily indebted to the pedigree of space hardware proven on ISS.

RickyRatchet104 karma

Hi Chris.

I was wondering about electrical on board the ISS. I'm an electrician so I was wondering do you have an astronaut that is an electrician as well or just highly trained? Do you guys have breaker panels or fuses?

What about the power generation, how often do you change the batteries? What happens if 1 panel in an array goes out?

Thanks, it's been awesome following you on twitter and reddit.

ColChrisHadfield157 karma

We are trained to be able to do everything onboard - we have to be. It takes many years.

Station has many levels of current protection, circuit breakers inside and out, most that can be reset remotely.

Our solar panels are big and powerful, and we have enough taht we can lose some and still power everything.

nothingtoseehere2877 karma

What is the prettiest thing to look at from space?

ColChrisHadfield194 karma

The aurora - Northern and Southern lights. A fantastic continuous light show as we swing north and south, just shimmering and dancing there, demanding to be stared at.

garg74 karma

I haven't seen any other astronaut do as much as you are on social media channels for showing people how amazing space travel and research is. Why is that? And can we expect this to be the norm going forward? I sure hope so!

ColChrisHadfield180 karma

Each astronaut has personal goals as part of their career. One of mine has been education and public awareness of what we are doing in space exploration. This current 5-month mission combined with the advent of social media has made this possible like never before. I think it is important that people see the world from this new perspective that technology has given us, and I do my utmost to make that happen.

huh_nope_what68 karma

On Valentine's Day, you were sent a video valentine from the people of Victoria, BC. Can you access Youtube from the ISS? Have you heard anything about the video? Didn't you go to military college in Victoria? Have you ever visited the Herzburg Institute of Astrophysics where they store data from the Hubble Space Telescope?


EDIT: he has already said he can't watch video

ColChrisHadfield103 karma

I haven't seen the video yet, but I will, and I look forward to it - thanks!

Yes, I attended Royal Roads Military College near Victoria for the 1st 2 years of my undergraduate degree. My Mother-In-Law lives in Victoria!

I've never been to that Institute, yet.