Chris Hadfield announces retirement
Monday, June 10, 2013, 8:06 -
Astronaut Chris Hadfield became a media sensation while commanding the International Space Station, piquing curiosity in space exploration. But after decades as a public servant, Hadfield has announced his retirement.
In a career laden with milestones, add this one to the list of feats achieved by Chris Hadfield: sending in your resignation notice from outer space.
The famous astronaut informed his superiors of his intention to leave the Canadian Space Agency a few months ago while he was still on the International Space Station.
Hadfield broke the news to the rest of the planet on Monday. At a news conference during his first visit back to Canada since his recent return to Earth, Hadfield announced that his career at the space agency will end on July 3.
He called his career the culmination of "an incredible adventure" that began when he was a nine-year-old dreaming of flying in space. Born in Sarnia, Ontario, and raised on a corn farm in Milton, Ontario, he became a military pilot, moved to the U.S., and joined the space program.
"It's brought me to the point that I've decided to retire from government service after 35 years of serving our country," Hadfield told reporters at the space agency headquarters, near Montreal.
Hadfield gained international prominence during his space station stay, where he used social media to share experiments, photographs and even a memorable music video.
On the day the 53-year-old astronaut announced his retirement, Hadfield was being followed by more than one million people on Twitter.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that Canadians are extremely proud of all of Hadfield's accomplishments. From being a top pilot with the Canadian Forces and U.S. Navy, to becoming a premier international space explorer, Harper called the astronaut's career "nothing short of exceptional."
He applauded the way Hadfield shared his experiences with others back in Earth.
"Delivered in his humble and warm manner, (he) captured the hearts and the attention of Canadians and people around the world," the Prime Minister said.
"He brought the excitement of being an astronaut, and the excitement of space travel to the forefront once again, and has inspired a generation of young people to follow in his footsteps."
The Prime Minister and soon-to-be-retired astronaut had breakfast earlier Monday at 24 Sussex Drive, before Hadfield headed toward Montreal. His retirement announcement didn't quite catch the agency by surprise.
Gilles Leclerc, the CSA's acting president, says Hadfield informed it of his plan to retire about halfway through his five-month space station mission.
"Chris communicated that decision back in March, but it was confidential," Leclerc said Monday. "That was a decision that was planned for a long time."
Hadfield will also be leaving behind his longtime home of Houston, where he built his career as an astronaut.
"(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. "I'm looking forward to the next phase of life."