Remember Chris Hadfield? He was that Canadian astronaut who commanded the International Space Station back in 2013. By the time he came back down to Earth, some were calling him one of the most renowned astronauts since Neil Armstrong. How did that happen? Free WiFi. TV made Armstrong famous. The internet made Hadfield a star.
Calling it the "ultimate wireless connection," NASA installed WiFi on the ISS in 2010 [source: NASA]. Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer was the first to live tweet from space, but it was Hadfield, three years later, who used the access to best effect. A Twitter exchange with William Shatner was the trigger, and within a few months, Hadfield had 800,000 followers. His videos from zero-gravity have been viewed more than 20 million times, and his cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" was a worldwide phenomenon [source: Mirani].
Gaining access to this particular free WiFi connection, however, is no joke. In Hadfield's case it required getting a degree in engineering, then becoming a fighter pilot, then a test pilot and then finally jumping through endless hoops to qualify as a NASA astronaut. Becoming an astronaut is great, but it's no guarantee that you'll actually end up in space. That requires luck, fluent Russian and a talent for being the person with just the right qualifications at the right time [source: chrishadfield.ca].