Last spring, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield had social media buzzing with his awe-inspiring photos and videos from the International Space Station.
On Monday, the news that Hadfield will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 Bob Ewert Memorial Lecture and Dinner had locals tweeting up a storm.
"It's caught everyone's attention," UNBC development manager Katherine Scouten said, noting the university's Facebook page got likes at a record speed after the news was announced.
Hadfield will be the headliner for the 10th annual Ewert dinner on April 5, 2014. The event raises money for the Northern Medical Programs Trust.
"It is an anniversary year, so it's very fitting that we'll have Chris here," Scouten said. "He's our most famous Canadian astronaut and we're pretty excited that this will be his first trip to northern B.C. - at least on the ground."
Hadfield made three trips to space in his more than two decade career with the Canadian Space Agency, capped with a five-month stint aboard the space station. He retired from the space agency this summer and is now working as a professional speaker.
Organizers of the Ewert dinner wanted to make a splash with their anniversary event and Scouten said a number of names of possible speakers were bandied about. Hadfield's name was mentioned just as he was making the transition from astronaut to speaker, making him a natural fit.
Scouten said the nature of Hadfield's presentation hasn't been nailed down yet, but organizers will be in contact with him closer to the event.
"I'm quite sure it will be personal to us and to northern B.C.," she said. "We're looking forward to hearing everything about his experiences in space and maybe he'll bring his guitar along with him."
The university already has ties to Canada's space program through chancellor John MacDonald, who co-founded MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates in 1969. His company went on to develop the original Canadarm, the device used to move items in space outside of a spacecraft.
In addition to Hadfield's presentation, the night will also focus on the work the medical trust has done to help students through the clinical phase of their education and how it's encouraged and influenced their career choices.
Tickets are already on sale for the dinner - earlier than normal due to the significance of the speaker - and Scouten is hoping for a record turnout at the Civic Centre. In the past the fundrasier has drawn between 550 and 600 people, but organizers would love to see the facility packed with upwards of 1,000 for Hadfield.
Individual tickets cost $125 and tables of 10 can be purchased for $1,000. They're available by calling 250.960.5750 or emailing UNBC's external relations department at developm...@unbc.ca
"We're really encouraging people about how they can fill a table of 10 and make this a really big community-wide event," Scouten said.