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Commander Chris Hadfield Discusses Going through Customs after Being in Space and More in His Reddit AMA

If you get held up at customs, tell them you came from space. That's what astronauts do.


Astronaut. Social Media Phenomenon. Mustache Grower. Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield is an amazing human being, and people have been taking notice after his great videos of life in space, his book, and his hilarious videos of astronaut life on Earth. He took to Reddit yesterday to let users ask him anything at all in a Reddit AMA.

Here’s what we learned from some of the best bits of the AMA (usernames in bold):

Astronauts have to go through customs after they land, just like any other flight:

Hi Chris! What an awesome opportunity- thanks for fielding our questions!
Did you have to pass through Customs or some other international checkpoint when you landed in Kazakhstan?

Yes, we did. NASA kept our passports and visas, and brought them to us at landing, so we had them at the Karaganda airport to leave Kazakhstan. A funny but necessary detail of returning to Earth.

We also found out from The Atlantic that the Apollo 11 astronauts and customs in Hawaii had a great sense of humor. Just check out the customs form they filled out when they landed.


Departed from: Moon. Cargo: Moon rocks. Hadfield isn’t the only funny astronaut.

Here, we learn about astronaut tears and zero-gravity sneezing techniques:

Have you had any close calls/accidents while in orbit?

I was blinded by contamination in my spacesuit during my 1st spacewalk. It was the anti-fog used on my visor, took about 30 minutes for my eyes to tear enough to dilute it so that I could see again. Without gravity, tears don’t fall, so they had to evaporate. No way to rub your eyes inside the helmet.

That sounds like a terrible situation. What happens if you sneeze in the helmet?

When we have to sneeze in our spacesuit, we lean our heads forward and sneeze into our chest, to keep it from splattering on the visor. Still messy, but the best compromise – clean it up when you de-suit.

Astronauts brave their own boogers for science, people. That’s dedication. Actually, a surprising amount of this is about astronaut boogers:

Does your nose run more in space?

Your nose can’t run without gravity … you lose the ‘drip’ in post-nasal drip. But your sinuses don’t drain either, so lots of full sinus feeling. I blew my nose regularly, and occasionally took a decongestant. It affected my singing voice a bit, I think.

Perhaps tired of answering questions about gross bodily functions when the whole future of space was open as a topic, Hadfield played a little prank on the commenters. Well, that’s up for debate, but that’s how we’d prefer to imagine it. Commander Hadfield: Internet troll master.

Hi Col. Chris! Reaaally important question. Do you fart more or less in space?

More – because it’s impossible to burp when weightless (the gas, liquid and solid in your stomach all mix together).
As an experiment, try standing on your head and burping.

Tried standing on my head and burping –> Vomited a little in my mouth
I feel like I just got trolled by Chris Hadfield

Seriously, though, Hadfield thinks that all of space should be a priority, because it’s important that we keep sending people and robots out there to gather all of the information we can:

lunacite 1512
Two questions:
What is your favorite Sci-fi movie?
Do you think that funding priority should go towards manned or unmanned space exploration?

Galaxy Quest
Both, always both. They serve different purposes – we need robots and sensors for certain tasks and risk levels, but we need people to understand, solve and appreciate the complexities of being in a new place.

Finally, ever the great guy, Hadfield gives advice on regular pedestrian things like how to achieve a work/life balance, even if his work is in space, and his family is on Earth:

Evening, Sir!
I’m currently an NCM in the RCAF and a former cadet (WO2) of 820 Chris Hadfield/Blue Thunder/Milton Squadron. I want to say ‘thanks!’ for doing your brief, yet awesome interview with some of the cadets earlier this year. You offered a lot of words-of-wisdom, which I know they appreciate.
I’m glad you have the time to answer some of these questions and I’d be ecstatic if you could answer mine! I had about a dozen questions written out, and had to choose the most important.
How do you keep the balance of family/work when your job demands so much time?
Edit: With regards to the end of the previous interview – Is there a need for muscle retaining medication in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Over.

Balancing work with family is hard. I think most people try, mess it up, apologize, change something, and try again.
The key is to get the whole family, self included, to see the big picture on both sides – work is necessary for income/standard of living/self-worth, and family is necessary for love/commitment/joy/humanity. Talk about the balance, often. Be patient. Remind each other when you are messing up. Make exceptions.
Give insight – take each other to work, spend time swapping roles. Make no job beneath you. Accept that it won’t always be good. And work at it, together.

Take each other to work? That has to raise some logistical issues with working in space.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule of pioneering science to answer questions about farts and snot, Commander. The Internet really appreciates it.

(via The Atlantic, image via Connect 2 Canada)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.