Astronaut Chris Hadfield retiring from Canadian Space Agency

After capturing our hearts and expanding our minds during his five-month stay in orbit on the International Space Station, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield announced today that he'll be leaving the Canadian Space Agency in July.

"I've decided to retire from government service," he said, at the CSA headquarters this afternoon.

"I've had such an interesting career, and after 35 years it's time to step down. I'm the last astronaut of my class that's still around," he added, according to CBC News. "It's rare to be an astronaut for more than 20 years."

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Hadfield has been with the Canadian Space Agency since 1992, and has flown three missions in space since then. The first was in 1995, when he flew aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis to the Russian Space Station Mir, and became the first Canadian to board Mir and to operate the shuttle's Canadarm in orbit. His second flight was in 2001, when he joined the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on a delivery mission to install the Canadarm2 on the then-new International Space Station.

His most recent mission to the International Space Station made Hadfield a household name around the world. Hadfield broke barriers by posting incredible photographs of the Earth and several YouTube videos. He also made history in March when he became the first Canadian to ever take command of the International Space Station.

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A tireless promoter of space exploration and Canada's involvement in space exploration, Hadfield did a lot to raise awareness and get people excited about space again. After the past five months, he is definitely going to his retirement on a high note. As for what he plans to do next, it's likely he's going to take his time to decide, and after everything he's done, it's certainly going to be a well-deserved vacation.

(Photo courtesy: Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

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