Is This Man The Next Chris Hadfield?
In some ways, the headline of this article may be somewhat insulting to Tim Peake, a highly talented man who has won the right to travel to space through his physical and mental ability. However, in many other ways, he should feel honored to be likened to the most famous astronaut in decades.
In just 5 months, Chris Hadfield revolutionized the way the International Space Station and it's inhabitants communicate with people back on Earth. Be it through music, Twitter or brilliant instructional videos, Hadfield made himself a household name while simultaneously boosting knowledge of ISS operations.
Tim Peake is currently undergoing a meteoric rise to fame of his own. The announcement that he had been selected to become the first British Astronaut to travel to the ISS was huge news in the UK. Over the last 24 hours, the quiet man from Chichester in the South of England has been placed under the spotlight by many domestic and international news outlets as the news of his 2015 trip came out. However, all of this scrutiny isn't just because of his place in British history. Many believe that what Chris Hadfield did for the ISS and Canada Space Agency over the last 5 months, can be continued by Tim Peake, with exposure of the ISS and European Space Agency reaching new levels in the UK.
Indeed, there are a number of similarities between the pair. Both Peake and Hadfield achieved their ISS missions with an Air Force background. They both joined the Air Cadets at a young age, with Peake going on to join the Royal Air Force as an officer in 1992 and Hadfield joining the Canadian Armed Forces in 1978
Both saw their military flight careers lead them into the prestigious, yet dangerous world of test piloting, something that ultimately gave them the experience necessary to be considered for space flight.
But the similarities don't stop at their training. Both are known to play the guitar and have a passion for music, although when asked if he will be emulating Hadfield's zero gravity musical performances, Peake is somewhat noncommittal. We can only hope that days and weeks of drifting through space will draw out the performer in him.
Yet, despite all this, the biggest similarity between the two men will surely be their desire to raise awareness of space flight among a new generation. Hadfield carried out this mission with aplomb, generating a Twitter following of more than 800,000 and carrying out numerous video links with Canadian schools.
As part of the first UK Government sponsored mission to the ISS, part of Peake's focus will be to encourage his government to become a regular backer of space industry, something that has been sadly lacking in years gone by.
The initial buzz across the UK show positive signs that this is a nation ready to start embracing the idea of space industry. If Tim Peake can do half as well as Hadfield in terms of outreach to his home country, the UK would not only start seeing an increased interest in space operations, but a whole new generation of astronauts could start to emerge, much like they will be in Canada over the coming years.