In 2013, Commander Chris Hadfield set out to create a cover of David Bowie's 1960 hit "Space Oddity" aboard the International Space Station. The video would go on to become one of the year's most popular, with more than 23 million views and an official designation as the "first viral hit from space." The composition was so well done that in his own Facebook post, Bowie called it "the most poignant version of the song ever created."
Joining the rest of the world in mourning Bowie, Hadfield posted a tweet honoring the legacy of the musician, who passed away at the age of 69 after battling cancer.
What's interesting about the Hadfield cover of "Space Oddity" is that Bowie was aware of its creation from the very beginning. In fact, it was his gracious green light that allowed Hadfield and his team to move forward on the cover.
"The reasons we originally made the video were multifold," Hadfield wrote in a post. "It was in response to repeated widespread requests via social media. It was a fun Saturday project with my son, Evan. It was a continuation of the other music that I was playing and recording while on ISS. But maybe most importantly, it was a chance to let people see where we truly are in space exploration. We’re not just probing what lies beyond Earth – we inhabit it."
When the one-year agreement on the song ran out, Hadfield was forced to take it down from YouTube. The song may have created new fans for one of rock's greatest musician's, but it also shed light on the complexities of copyright from space.
"The Space Station was built by 15 countries, and depending on where I floated while singing and playing, whose copyright laws applied?" questioned Hadfield. "Which space agency owned the recording? Whose jurisdiction was I in?"
Thankfully, Bowie and his lawyers made the process to get the song back online straightforward, with a two-year agreement that ends in late 2016.
Added Hadfield: "We’re proud to have helped bring Bowie’s genius from 1969 into space itself in 2013, and now ever-forward."