19 May 2013

Astronaut wrestling with gravity after spaceflight

5:56 am on 19 May 2013

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is having a rough re-introduction to gravity after a five-month stint aboard the International Space Station.

Living without gravity for five months has left him feeling dizzy, weak and prematurely aged.

A veteran of three space flights, he is wearing a pressure suit under his clothes to help his circulation as his body re-adapts to getting blood back to his brain.

"Without the constant pull-down of gravity, your body gets a whole new normal, and my body was quite happy living in space without gravity," Hadfield, 53, said in a video conference call on Thursday, three days after returning to Earth.

The video conference was posted on the Canadian Space Agency's UStream channel.

"Right after I landed I could feel the weight of my lips and tongue ... I hadn't realized that I had learned to talk with a weightless tongue," he said.

He has overall body soreness, particularly in his neck and back which are again having to support his head after months in weightlessness.

"It feels like I played full-contact hockey, but it's getting better by the hour," Hadfield said.

Hadfield, NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko landed in Kazakhstan from the ISS on Monday. He and Marshburn were then flown to Houston to begin rehabilitation.

As a departing finale, Hadfield created a music video rendering of David Bowie's Space Oddity, which as of Friday had 13 millions hits on YouTube.