Just days before an epic return from space, Expedition 56 commander Drew Feustel recorded a music video on the International Space Station celebrating the ways that people can connect on Earth. Helping him was the lead bassist from the Canadian troubadour band The Tragically Hip.
At the video's beginning, Feustel flies across the space station carrying a guitar. Feustel then plays and sings from the Cupola's full-frame window while gazing out at Earth. The video includes clips of cargo ships flying around the International Space Station, views of auroras and hurricanes, and glimpses of spacewalking astronauts, interspersed with views of Earth from the ground.
"Sixteen times around and around, the sun comes up, the sun goes down on everybody's lives," Feustel sings in the video, speaking of the space station's 16 daily orbits around Earth. "The world goes fast as we float slow. The stars above the Earth below; we look down to see the sky," he continues. [The International Space Station: Inside and Out (Infographic)]
Feustel later sings about the importance of expressing love around the world: "Nations fight and people die, but peace and love will come in time. We all live out in space."
The new, untitled composition was published on the NASA Johnson YouTube page Sept. 30, with lyrics from Canadian bassist Gord Sinclaihaving a tour of NASA's facilities," Baker told the magazine. "It was out of the blue to us, but wer. Sinclair is best known for his association with the band, which became a national Canadian symbol over three decades of performances.
Feustel's connection to the band first came after he gave a NASA tour to The Tragically Hip around 2006, according to a story in the Queen's University alumni magazine. (Queen's is based in Kingston, Canada.) Lead guitarist Dave Baker is a Queen's alumnus.
"We were touring in the States and had an upcoming gig in Houston, and we got the call from Drew Feustel, asking if we'd be interested in grew up in a certain time when the Apollo missions were front and center in our childhoods growing up, so we were all excited to check it out. We rode the shuttle simulator, got to ask questions and saw them training in this gigantic pool, got a tour of the space arm — it was fantastic, and Drew was amazing with us."
The astronaut and the guitarist quickly became friends, especially because Feustel is part of an astronaut band called Max Q that frequently plays Tragically Hip music. The Hip (as Canadians refer to the band) posted social media updates during Feustel's 2011 space shuttle mission, and provided more updates when Feustel launched to the space station earlier this year for Expeditions 55/56.
The Tragically Hip was active between its formation in 1984 and the death of lead singer Gord Downie at age 53 from terminal brain cancer in 2017. In July 2018, The Hip told Canada's Global News that they are no longer an active band, although they continue to post on social media and sell memorabilia and older music.
Feustel holds both Canadian and American citizenship. He isn't the first Canadian to record a music video from the space station; Chris Hadfield reprised David Bowie's "Space Oddity" during the closing days of his own space station command in 2013. For his part, Hadfield was also a member of Max Q and appeared on stage with Downie at several large Canadian events, including the 2016 WE Day in Toronto.
The Expedition 56 astronauts of Feustel, NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev are scheduled to land on Earth tomorrow (Oct. 4). You can watch updates on the landing on Space.com.