Astronaut Chris Hadfield Reflects On Sounds In Space

By Nick Venable | 7 years ago

If you frequent this site, along with most other science/space-based areas of the Internet, then you’re familiar with the name (and the sounds of) Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut who commanded the International Space Station from December 2012 through May 2013. While up there, Hadfield almost single-handedly gave astronauts social media relevancy, assisted by his son Evan, by releasing videos and soundbites of just how differently things worked in space, from crying to conservation. He recently released a video through SoundCloud, thanking them for allowing him to share his with the world things that regular citizens don’t get to see or hear everyday.

Yes, this video is mostly concerned with sounds, as the ISS is a completely different beast when it comes to noise and silence. He’d already released a clip of the mechanical din that surrounds anyone dwelling within the space station’s walls, calling out the treadmill and carbon dioxide removal system as sources for high decibals. Flushing toilets? A cascade of babel, more likely.

He mentions the noticeable transitions from being in the open areas as compared to being closed in the sleeping bay, and he claims the crew quarters to be the quietest spot on board. It gets down to the lower 40s in terms of decibels, making it sound about as loud as a refrigerator humming. (An ice maker after midnight, on the other hand, is about as loud as the ISS engines.)

Beyond describing the shocking hubbub that he and the other astronauts were thrown into almost immediately after their successful landing, Hadfield’s most interesting comments come when he starts talking about his guitar, and his lifelong connection with the instrument. He was granted permission to present a guitar complete with a foldable neck to the crew of the Mir space station years ago, and says the guitar currently aboard the ISS has been up there for over 65,000 orbits. That’s enough to make me dizzy.

It’s pretty awesome watching Hadfield talk about anything really, but he seems to genuinely get lost in talking about music. Not in a confused way or anything, but it’s when he looks his happiest. And if you paid attention to any of his musical feats while on the ISS, you’ll know what I mean. He was the first person to actually record a song while in space – though he wasn’t the first to actually play a guitar up there – and also took part in the very first Earth-space duet, performing the original song “I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing?)” with Ed Robertson from the band Barenaked Ladies. And while that song was amazing to behold, you can’t get better than Hadfield’s cover of “Space Oddity”.

Find Hadfield on Facebook or Twitter, and if you’ve got enough room for more than one astronaut’s tweets, NASA’s Karen Nyberg is currently up there in the ISS, picking up where Hadfield left off.