While floating weightless in the International Space Station last spring, Commander Chris Hadfield recorded his own version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" — a video that's now been viewed more than 18 million times on YouTube. But when he wasn't busy being an Internet phenomenon, the Canadian astronaut was witnessing awe-inspiring beauty, facing life-threatening dangers and, at times, holding onto a spaceship orbiting Earth at 17,500 miles an hour.
"The big pervasive feeling on board looking at the Earth [from space] is one of tremendous exquisite privilege that it exists. ... But I think what everyone would find if they could be in that position — if they could see the whole world every 90 minutes and look down on the places where we do things right, and look down where we're doing stupid, brutal things to each other and the inevitable patience of the world that houses us — I think everybody would be reinforced in their faith, and maybe readdress the real true tenets of what's good and what gives them strength."