Astronaut Chris Hadfield to retire from Canadian Space Agency
Published Monday, June 10, 2013 2:22PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 10, 2013 4:17PM EDT
After spending five months bringing the wonder of space travel to so many around the world, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield announced Monday he will retire from the Canadian Space Agency next month.
Hadfield, 53, made the announcement during an event near Montreal to celebrate his return to Canada, following his successful mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
“It was the pinnacle of my entire career,” he said of his latest stint aboard the ISS. “It really brings it all together all the skills I’ve been gaining and trying to develop in myself.”
The beloved astronaut explained with that with his third space mission now behind him, it simply made sense for him to retire.
During the latter half of his voyage, Hadfield became the first Canadian commander of the ISS.
He told reporters he didn’t know what he would do next. But he said he was giving himself some time to think about it and to take a much-need break with family.
“I’m making good on a promise to my wife I made 30 years ago that yes, eventually we would live back in Canada,” Hadfield said. “I’m looking forward to the next phase in life.”
He added that he knew of astronauts who had struggled to adjust to life after the space program and that he hoped he would have a better idea of what's next in about a year.
Hadfield added he had no plans to “disappear” and would continue to reinforce the importance of space exploration through public speaking and visits to Canadian schools through the CSA.
Hadfield became something of an Internet celebrity during his recent ISS mission, where he sent out hundreds of photos of Earth taken from orbit and watched his Twitter following grow to 1 million users.
During the mission, he became the first Canadian ever to command the International Space Station and helped conduct more than 100 science experiments.
He also shared videos of life in zero gravity through YouTube, and took part in educational events with school groups, helping to reignite global interest and excitement in space travel.
“We, as a combined forced, reached a level of public involvement and public interest was unprecedented,” Hadfield said.
Toward the end of the mission, he wrote and sang a duet with members of the Barenaked Ladies and posted his own version of the 1969 David Bowie classic “Space Oddity” to YouTube, where it quickly went viral.
Last month, Hadfield, who spent 25 years in the Canadian Air Force, was asked whether he might use his newfound fame as a springboard into politics. He responded that while he’s as interested in politics as any Canadian, at the moment he had no such aspirations.