By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - A music video shot aboard the International Space Station went viral on Monday, turning an astronaut into an overnight music sensation with his zero-gravity version of David Bowie's hit "Space Oddity."
As the first Canadian to command the space station, a $100 million project of 15 nations, Chris Hadfield had already earned himself a place in the history books.
But as he prepared to return home on Monday after more than five months in orbit, Hadfield released a poignant "cyberspace" rendition of Bowie's song, which was first released in 1969 just ahead of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
The video, with its familiar refrain "Ground Control to Major Tom," had more than 1.5 million hits on YouTube early Monday afternoon and was being touted as the first music video ever filmed in space.
Complete with re-worked lyrics and high quality footage that Hadfield and his crew mates shot aboard the orbital outpost, the video shows the astronaut singing about the impending end of his space mission while floating in mid-air above the blue Earth.
"Though I've flown 100,000 miles, I'm feeling very still and before too long I know it's time to go," the astronaut croons.
Hadfield, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, actually have racked up many millions of miles (kilometers) as they circled about 250 miles above the planet over the past 5-1/2 months.
Hadfield's singing and acoustic guitar playing is accompanied by stunning video of the space station flying around the planet, a guitar free-floating and an eerie shot of a spacesuit at night.
The video, which was put together with the help of Hadfield's son Evan and with the support of David Bowie, ends with a Soyuz capsule parachuting to Earth.
The music video caps a public outreach campaign Hadfield has conducted since before he blasted off for the station in December 2012, sharing comments and photographs on Twitter and other social media outlets.
The music video is not Hadfield's first public performance. He is the lead vocalist and bass guitar player in the Houston-based all-astronaut rock band, Max Q.
(Editing by Tom Brown and Vicki Allen)