LONGUEUIL, Que. - Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield says everyone would benefit from seeing the world through the eyes of astronauts who are aboard the International Space Station.
During his first news conference since arriving at the giant orbiting space lab three weeks ago, the 53-year-old space veteran was asked on Thursday about the conflict in Syria as viewed from outer space.
"The perspective that we are subject to, that we are privileged to see differently with our eyes, is one that I think would benefit everyone." Hadfield said.
The space station circles the Earth in just 90 minutes and every time it comes around, it passes over a different part of the so-called Blue Marble.
Hadfield said it is hard to reconcile the beauty of the world as seen from space with the terrible things that people do to each other.
But the Canadian astronaut said the international team on the space station is trying to give people a small glimpse of a global perspective — "understanding of the fact that we're all in this together and that this is a spaceship, but so is the world."
Hadfield recently tweeted a picture of the Middle Eastern country to his followers — a number that had reached more than 160,000 on Thursday.
When the prolific Tweeter blasted into space on Dec. 19, he had only 20,000 followers on Twitter.
Montreal-born actor William Shatner, better known as Captain James T. Kirk in the TV and movie series "Star Trek" is among those who have since exchanged tweets with the Canadian astronaut.
Along with Shatner, Hadfield has also had social media chats with other "Star Trek" actors including Leonard Nimoy, George Takei and Wil Wheaton.
The native of Sarnia, Ont., is making this third space flight after two earlier missions.
His first space trip was an eight-day mission in November 1995 when he visited the Russian Space Station Mir. His second voyage was a visit to the International Space Station in April 2001, when he also performed two space walks during an 11-day voyage.
Hadfield is currently on a five-month visit and in mid-March will become the first Canadian to take command of the space station, which is the size of a football field.
He said that there's a big difference between brief space visits and living in space — and that's not having to rush everything this time.
"Actually being able to have a measured, thoughtful existence to really absorb what it's like," Hadfield said. "I really count myself lucky to have that."
The Canadian astronaut also said he's surprised to find out that he's just as clumsy when he wakes up in the space station as when he gets up back on Earth.
"When I come out of my sleeping berth and float down to what is basically our galley and our bathroom, I bump into things — even though I'm floating weightless," he said with a big laugh. "You can still have the morning clumsies up here."
Hadfield, whose mission patch is in the form of a guitar, has been strumming on a Canadian-made guitar that's on the space station almost every evening after work.
He also said he plans to continue writing songs about life on Earth and in space as he continues his long visit.
"After five months maybe I'll have enough for an album," Hadfield added.