Chris Hadfield: A Man Of Many Firsts Retires From Canadian Space Agency
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Chris Hadfield, fresh off his return from a five-month stint aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as the first Canadian to ever take command of the orbiting space laboratory, has announced he is retiring from the Canadian Space Agency.
Hadfield, who was born in Sarnia, Ontario in 1959, said he will also be returning home to Canada upon his retirement (his last day is July 3, 2013). His 21-year career as an astronaut followed his service as a Cold War fighter pilot.
During his time aboard the ISS, Hadfield became a Canadian hero and icon for students everywhere hoping to one day follow in his footsteps. He had also become a man of many firsts. Not only was he the first Canadian to ever be Commander on an ISS mission (Expedition 35), but he became the first astronaut to tweet from space and became the first man to ever record a music video from space.
Before ending his five-month stay on the ISS, Hadfield took the initiative to cover David Bowie´s ℠Space Oddity;´ the rendition was truly awe-inspiring.
Hadfield also looked to social media to promote space science and captivated the world with his breathtaking images of Earth from space.
Hadfield announced his retirement during a special press conference at the CSA outside Montreal on Monday after a visit with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa.
Hadfield said during the conference that he is “retiring from the Canadian Space Agency and just pursuing private interests.” He added that “it has been an incredible adventure,” and described his recent ISS mission as “a kind of pinnacle of my entire career… since I was a little dreaming kid of nine years old thinking of flying in space.”
He said he was ready to plant his feet on the ground and see where the future takes him, noting it was “time now for me to do something else.”
Hadfield returned from his ISS mission on May 13, along with NASA´s Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko.
Parliamentary secretary Chris Alexander said during the conference: “Chris Hadfield has inspired all Canadians, especially our next-generation of scientists and engineers“¦ His exceptional career achievements make him a true Canadian hero and icon.”
Hadfield´s retirement means that he will return home to Canadian soil. He had been living in Houston, Texas since the early 1980s. “[I'll be] making good on a promise I made my wife nearly 30 years ago – that yes, eventually, we would be moving back to Canada,” Hadfield said.
Hadfield noted during the conference that he is still readjusting to life on Earth. During his time in space he lost some skeletal mass and his heart shrank. He said he is recovering his strength and should be back to normal by Labor Day.
He said he lost five percent of his bone density in some areas, but because he exercised two hours a day while in space, he can now bench press more than he used to.
Among his string of firsts, Hadfield also became the first Canadian to perform a spacewalk, installing Canadarm 2 on the ISS in 2001. He was also the first and only Canadian to visit the Russian space station Mir in 1995.