In a somewhat surprise announcement, Canadian astronaut — and social media icon — Chris Hadfield announced his retirement from the astronaut corps, just weeks after he returned home from his highly successful expedition to the International Space Station.
The wildly popular Hadfield made the announcement at the Canadian Space Agency headquarters near Montreal on Monday. He had called a press conference there to share highlights from his five-month mission, but also announced his retirement as well as his plans to return to live in Canada after spending much of his 21-year astronaut career at Johnson Space Center in Houston or Star City in Russia.
“I’m 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 during the press conference.
In posting the above image on Twitter, he said that saying “goodbye to these good people today was much harder than I expected.”
The 53-year-old Hadfield sent a nearly constant stream of magnificent images, informative videos and ebullient Tweets during his pre-flight training and his Expedition 34/35, as well as hosting numerous interviews and educational events with school groups via webcasts from the ISS. With over a million followers on Twitter, his words were read – and widely retweeted — by people around the world.
“I am extremely proud to have shared my experience,” Hadfield said in a statement from the CSA. “I will continue to reinforce the importance of space exploration through public speaking and will continue to visit Canadian schools through the CSA.”
“Chris Hadfield made space exploration history by becoming the first Canadian to command the International Space Station, a feat that instilled pride from coast-to-coast-to-coast,” said Candian Parliamentary Secretary Chris Alexander. “His efforts have affirmed our country’s world-renowned space expertise. I would like to personally thank Chris for his commitment to bringing the spirit of discovery not only to all Canadians, but to the world.”
Sources: CSA press release, CBC