Move over Scotty, Captain Kirk has a new favorite engineer. Actor William Shatner, the Canadian actor who portrayed the iconic captain of the Starship Enterprise on TV's "Star Trek" hailed Canada's soon-to-be first space station commander on Twitter to find out the latest news from orbit.
Shatner wrote to Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, who posts Twitter updates as @Cmdr_Hadfield, Thursday (Jan. 3) using his own Twitter handle @WilliamShatner.
"@Cmdr_Hadfield Are you tweeting from space? MBB," Shatner wrote, signing off with his abbreviation of "My Best, Bill."
It did not take long for Hadfield, a mechanical engineer and retired colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces, to beam a reply down from the International Space Station.
"@WilliamShatner Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we're detecting signs of life on the surface," the astronaut wrote.
Hadfield launched into orbit in December aboard a Russian rocket to kick off a months-long mission to the International Space Station. He currently serves as a flight engineer on the space station's six-man Expedition 34 crew. In March, he will take charge of the station's Expedition 35 mission increment, making him Canada's first space commander.
Officials with the Canadian Space Agency (on Twitter as @csa_asc) also used the social media website to confirm to Shatner that Hadfield was, in fact, using Twitter to post updates and photos from space.
"I'm very impressed!" Shatner wrote back.
Shatner and Hadfield actually have met before, at least in photo form. The actor posed with a tiny paper version of the astronaut as part of a public outreach campaign for Hadfield's mission.
"The last time @WilliamShatner and I met was in another dimension - 2D," Hadfield wrote as he posted the photo.
CSA officials even invited Shatner for a visit, offering him a chance to speak with Hadfield from space. The agency's headquarters, the John H. Chapman Space Center, is located in Saint-Hubert, Quebec.
"I can't make any promises but I will see what I can do. MBB," Shatner wrote.
Astronauts on the International Space Station have used Twitter as a way to post mission updates and photos from space since 2009, when NASA astronaut Mike Massimino became the first spaceflyer to use Twitter from space during the last space shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. As of today, Hadfield has 61,432 followers on his Twitter account, which he used to unveil the first original song recorded in space (his tune "Jewel in the Night") last week.
Hadfield is due to return to Earth in mid-May.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.