Reddit reacts to Chris Hadfield’s pass through customs upon return to Earth

Yup, I have my passport!So, among the questions Chris Hadfield answered during his Reddit AMA last week, one in particular sparked quite the reaction after he related a surprising (but maybe not so shocking) aspect of returning to Earth.

The fun started when Reddit user IAMAfortunecookieAMA asked the former astronaut: "Did you have to pass through Customs or some other international checkpoint when you landed in Kazakhstan?"

"Yes, we did," was Hadfield's reply. "NASA kept our passports and visas, and brought them to us at landing, so we had them at the Karaganda airport to leave Kazakhstan. A funny but necessary detail of returning to Earth."

At first glance, that is pretty funny. Reddit agreed, and the jokes began to fly about as fast as the many vehicles the retired Canadian Air Force colonel has flown and commanded over the years ...

BloodAndGutsMurphy wrote:

I'm sorry, but we have no record of you entering Kazakhstan. Explain yourself.
December 4, 2013

Hydra_Bear followed up:

"I fell out of the sky"
"Sir, please step into the room to your left."
December 4, 2013

ryansouth21 asked:

Is there a passport stamp for outer space?
Immigration officer: "where are you coming from?"
Chris: "Space..."
December 4, 2013

ShallowBasketcase wondered about the interview's followup questions:

... do you have anything to declare? Fruits? Seeds? Space wine?
December 4, 2013

While Dtrain16 posted one of the possible outcomes (and probably the most difficult to recover from):

Bam! [Entrance denied]
December 4, 2013

Although it's true that the astronauts went through customs, and it's pretty funny to think about going through the whole process when you're filling in your 'point of departure' with 'space', the astronauts didn't specifically pass through customs to return to Earth.

Once the three returning 'spacelings' were safely down and out of the Soyuz capsule, they were first checked out in a nearby medical tent. Then, while cosmonaut Roman Romanenko went with the Roscosmos staff, Hadfield and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn were flown to nearby Karaganda airport by helicopter. There, they passed through customs to leave Kazakhstan and return to the United States, just as anyone flying out of Karaganda would have gone through customs to fly to the United States.

[ More Geekquinox: Polar-orbiting satellite locates the coldest place on Earth ]

Still, while the idea is just a joke now, it likely won't remain so for much longer. Commercial spaceflight companies like SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin (just to name some of the more high-profile ones) are making big strides these days. Other companies have plans for space hotels and even moon bases. At this pace, it won't be too long before we will need to pass through 'space customs'.

Personally, I can't wait for the day when I can have space destinations stamped in my passport.

(Photo courtesy: The Canadian Press)

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