William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk of the USS Enterprise, has been chatting with fellow Canadian Chris Hadfield, who is about to take over as the commander of the International Space Station.
Hadfield, wearing a red shirt, opened the chat with a blast of the Star Trek boatswain's whistle, used in the series to signify that the captain is on deck. However, the tone came from Hadfield's iPad, not from some high-tech wind instrument.
Being an astronaut is much like being an actor, Hadfield told Shatner – the biggest fear is not knowing your lines. Hadfield's six-month trip to the ISS was the culmination of five years of training, all making sure that if the unexpected happened, he would know what to do, just as rehearsal is so important for thespians.
Shatner also asked why there appears to be something of a pause in the US space program, but Hadfield said it was just a hiatus because the nation was between launch vehicles. With the retirement of the shuttle, things are slow now, he said, but international cooperation would ensure that the ISS and her crew remain in orbit for years to come.
As for any forthcoming mission to Mars, Hadfield said he was ready and keen to go, although that was going to be some time in the future. Hadfield invited Shatner to his cottage in Ontario when he gets back to Earth, so that they could discuss things further over brandies and cigars and watch satellites skim across the night sky.
Shatner stepped down halfway through the 20-minute link-up to allow other space enthusiasts, dubbed "tweeps" by the Canadian Space Agency, to get their questions in. In the multi-lingual chat, Hadfield covered private space efforts, the use of social media, and the opportunities for stargazing on the ISS.
Hadfield's back at work now, but on Friday he's going to be breaking out the ISS guitar and jamming with the band Bare Naked Ladies, a prospect he admitted to being more than a little nervous about. ®