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Ground control to Major Emer…

Strabane’s Emer Maguire with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

A STRABANE radio presenter has this week described as “amazing,” her duet with a former spaceman.

Emer Maguire, who hosts the Radio Ulster show, New Voices: Science and Stuff recently interviewed Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut who lived in orbit on the International Space Station for some 166 days.

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Although now retired from space-walking, the 59-year-old is also the man responsible for Channel 4’s hit show, Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?

“I was really, really excited about meeting him,” Emer admitted this week. “I jumped at the chance.”

As if meeting a man who spent almost 15 hours doing space walks outside the International Space Station wasn’t enough, Emer admitted her chat with Chris Hadfield went one step further.

Chris also holds the title for recording the first music video in space. Back in 2013, during his time on the space station, the former fighter pilot recorded a version of David Bowie’s seminal, Space Oddity, a rendition which Bowie himself lauded as “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever recorded.”

Emer takes up the story…
“I met him in Limerick. We were due to meet at a castle – as you do – but when we were on our way, Chris texted us to ask if we could meet at his hotel.

“I knew he was a musician and my producer Owen (McFadden) thought we should chance our arm and bring a guitar.

“The thing was: I had been robbed the week before and my guitar had been stolen. So I had to borrow one to bring with me. I was telling Chris this story and I think he took pity on me. It turns out, he had his guitar with him in Limerick.”

As Chris dashed up to his room to grab his guitar, Emer said she decided to ask if a rendition of Space Oddity would be out of the question.

Better still, the astronaut and the radio presenter ended up playing it as a duet.

“It was a really, really good experience,” Emer said. “But very bizarre. Chris is very nice and really charming… he’s one of the most well-rounded people I think you could ever meet.

“The whole interview was just amazing. As he was talking I kept thinking to myself, ‘is this actually happening?’”

• Tune into New Voices: Science and Stuff with Emer Maguire every Tuesday night from 10pm on Radio Ulster.

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