Talk about a close encounter.
Preparing for his first space flight in April, astronaut Jack Fischer tweeted that his favorite song, Garth Brooks‘ hit “The River,” was the first on his pre-launch playlist. On Thursday, Fischer got to meet and talk with the country music superstar—while in space.
“I think you have so many great songs and so many great messages but it’s the heart that you put in every performance and the soul that you put into all those songs that make them so impactful,” Fischer told a tearful Brooks. “‘The River’ in particular was pretty much my anthem for almost the last three decades, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such an inspiration for so many and making those words count.”
Hosting a special episode of his video series, Inside Studio G, live on Facebook from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Brooks, alongside wife Trisha Yearwood, spoke with Fischer and his crew mate, astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson via video satellite. “It was so cool,” Brooks tells PEOPLE exclusively. “When you get to talk to two people in their field, it’s cool to get to be in their life. And it’s cool to get that pinch of reality where your music is in their life. I never can digest that, ever. It’s just so sweet.”
The couple also surprised Fischer with a visit from his wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter, Sariah, who joined them at the center, and performed a part of Brooks’ song ‘River’ with Yearwood singing harmony. “My favorite two words of the whole conversation were ‘Hi Daddy,'” Brooks says. “As a guy who was out on the road, you’d hear the phone slip to your baby and you’d just wait for that first breath and hear that, ‘Hi Daddy.'”
Brooks is the first celebrity to go live on Facebook from Mission Control while speaking to an astronaut in orbit. “Your life is full of amazing moments and I just got to have one,” the singer says. “What I love is social media allows you to take that journey to actually see these guys and do this. In all honesty, I totally forgot that we were on Facebook Live because I was so involved talking [to them].”
While being an astronaut obviously has its perks, the visit from Brooks and Yearwood was a highlight for the pair.
“We are always so excited to talk to people from our incredible outpost, orbiting 250 miles above the Earth,” Fischer and Whitson said in a joint statement to PEOPLE. “We spend our days conducting science experiments, capturing cargo vehicles and spacewalking, but we also enjoy sharing our experiences here aboard the International Space Station. Talking to Garth and Trisha today was a great reminder of how widespread the public’s interest in space is and how, as astronauts, we have a unique opportunity to share the importance of NASA’s mission and STEM, and hopefully show the next generation the inspirational power of exploration.”
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Fischer launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 20, and Whitson recently broke the record for the longest single spaceflight for a woman (previously 199 days). Would the singer take them up on their offer to come train with them? “No, hell no. Let me stop you—no. Are you kidding me?” Brooks says, laughing. “I’m too much of a wuss, a chicken. Not unless they want a concert up there. Then yeah, probably.”
Inside Studio G airs on Brooks’ Facebook Page Mondays at 7 p.m. EST.