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With the Canadian national anthem playing, astronaut Chris Hadfield accepted the “keys” to the International Space Station from outgoing Expedition 34 commander Kevin Ford, as Hadfield became the first Canadian commander of the space station.
“Thank you very much for giving me the keys to the family car… we’re going to put some miles on it,” Hadfield said during the change of command ceremonies held on the ISS today, marking the start of the Hadfield-led Expedition 35.
“It is a tremendous honour to assume command of the ISS,” Hadfield said in a statement issued by the Canadian Space Agency. “I will do my best to acquit myself well, accomplish the utmost as a crew for all the International Partners, and fully live and share the experience on behalf of so many around our world”.
“It’s a first for our country,” Hadfield continued, “but is really just the culmination of a lot of other firsts. I stand on the shoulders of so many that have made this possible, and now take my turn to try and add to that solid foundation for the Canadians that follow.”
Ford and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin arrived at the station on October 25, 2012 and leave the ISS on Friday, March 15, 2013, making a landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan in their Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft. Remaining on board with Hadfield are NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian Flight Engineer Roman Romanenko. They will be joined on March 29 by Expedition 35/36 crew members Pavel Vinogradov, NASA Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin.