Canada's first spacewalker, Chris Hadfield, has been living aboard the International Space Station (ISS) since December, occasionally sending back interesting photos and messages from space. Just hours ago, Hadfield decided to take things up a notch and share what it's like to live in space by participating in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session. The resulting exchange revealed a number of obscure details about life among the stars that aren't commonly discussed.
Answering questions from his sleep station, a tiny, phone booth-sized padded room with a door for privacy, Hadfield offered his thoughts on the recent privatization of space, saying, "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 two weeks, we'll grab it with Canadarm2." According to Hadfield, Australia is the coolest looking part of Earth as seen from space, and while the vacuum of space has no smell, when astronauts return from a spacewalk the ISS airlock has the distinct smell of gunpowder.
At one point Hadfield became a bit poetic when describing what distant stars and galaxies really look like in space versus the Hubble photos we've become so accustomed to examining here on Earth. Hadfield said, "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."
Finally, the astronaut tackled what may be the most important question any experienced space traveler can answer for the rest of us: what's next? Hadfield said, "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, propeller, 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."