MONTREAL - Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, an avid guitar player, says he's planning on doing some serious space jamming during his six-month visit to the International Space Station.
The veteran astronaut is scheduled to blast off aboard a Russian spacecraft on Dec. 5, with NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko.
Both of his travelling space companions also play guitar. Romanenko actually played with U2 when the group visited Moscow in 2010, while Marshburn is a classical guitarist.
Hadfield says he's planning to do some song-writing while he gazes down at the Earth.
"On board the space station, there's a Canadian guitar made in Vancouver, but there's also a keyboard and a ukelele," he told reporters during a news conference Thursday with the crew in Houston.
The 53-year-old astronaut says that while he'll be busy doing experiments and maintaining the space station, he'll also take time during evenings and weekends to play and record the songs he's written.
Some of those sessions will include other members of the musical astronaut trio.
"It's an extension of communication," Hadfield said.
"We can talk in Russian, we can talk in French, we can talk in English and we can talk in music — and it's a really fundamental human form of artistic communication."
He said he's looking forward to flying weightless by a huge cupola window and playing, writing and recording music from an inspiring vantage point.
Hadfield noted that he's been working in Canada to record a song written with another band: the Barenaked Ladies.
"It'll be in schools and choirs and high school orchestras this school year — a song that we're written together," he said.
This will be Hadfield's third space mission and, during his space station visit, he will become the first Canadian commander of the giant orbiting laboratory.
"It is hugely exciting and a great honour to be asked to be the commander of the International Space Station. Just from this Canadian kid's point of view, it's just a dream come true at this stage of my life," he said.
Hadfield's first trip was in November 1995 when he visited the Russian Space Station Mir. His second space voyage was a visit to the international station in April 2001, when he also performed two space walks. He was the first Canadian to ever leave a spacecraft and float freely in space.
He said he doesn't expect any space walks this time, unless something needs to be repaired from outside.
During his upcoming stay, the space station will be visited by the Russian Progress, a supply ship, as well as a couple of unmanned U.S. commercial cargo vessels.
With the cancellation of the U.S. space shuttle fleet, the door has been opened to allow private companies like SpaceX to eventually fly astronauts up to the space station.
Right now, the only way for humans to get there is by booking a seat on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, like the one carrying Hadfield and his crewmates.
But Hadfield told reporters that the privately funded Dragon space capsule, built by SpaceX, will come up about six weeks after his arrival. It already brought up supplies during a visit last May. The last visitor, Cygnus, is a new commercial vehicle made by Orbital Sciences.
Hadfield expects that last vessel to visit toward the end of his six-month visit. He comes back down to Earth in mid-May.
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