Congratulations to one of our favorite astronauts, Chris Hadfield from Canada. Today NASA and the Canadian Space Agency announced Hadfield will be heading to the International Space Station in 2012, serving as Flight Engineer for Expedition 34, and then transitioning to Commander midway through his 6-month stay when Expedition 35 begins. Hadfield will be the first Canadian to serve as Commander for the ISS. His ebullient style and passion for space exploration — evident in the video above from today’s announcement (Hadfield speaks in both French and English, so don’t worry if you’re not fluent in one or the other) should make for a lively and enlightening time on the ISS.
“This honor is beyond words,” Hadfield said at today’s announcement. “To have this opportunity is extremely challenging, extremely exciting and extremely rewarding. It still is two years away, I still have to pass two more of the toughest physicals on Earth before they’ll let me get in that Soyuz and dock with the space station… To be trusted … with the entire station on behalf of all the world’s space faring nations, but specifically Canada is a tremendous honor that we all can share.”
While there have been several great ambassadors for the wonders of space exploration who have served on board the ISS, Hadfield is one astronaut who can truly share what the experience of spaceflight is really like. See our interview with Hadfield where he describes what it is like to go on a spacewalk. (Or you can listen to the interview on the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast here.) He also has a great description of how to go the bathroom in space.
Above is Hadfield’s mission patch, in the shape of a guitar pick, which is symbolic of Hadfield’s musical interests with an emphasis on science and art, a distinguishing feature of Expedition 34/35, says Robert Pearlman from collectSPACE.
Joining Hadfield will be US astronaut Tom Marshburn, and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko will also serve as flight engineers for the Expedition 34 mission. Astronaut Kevin Ford and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin were previously announced as the other crew members for Expedition 34, which begins when Soyuz 31 undocks from the station in October 2012.
Expedition 35 will begin with the undocking of Soyuz 32 in March 2013. At that time, Hadfield will serve as station commander, with Marshburn and Romanenko continuing as flight engineers. The three additional crew members for Expedition 35 have yet to be assigned.
Hadfield and Marshburn have already completed an expedition together on the NEEMO (NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations) underwater habitat, so they should make a great team in space. You can read Universe Today’s interview with them during their mission under the sea.