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Beloved ISS Commander Chris Hadfield Is Retiring

Illustration for article titled Beloved ISS Commander Chris Hadfield Is Retiring

Chris Hadfield – Canadian astronaut (the first to ever serve as Commander of the International Space Station), space-musician (the first to record a music video in space), social media powerhouse, inspirational whirlwind and professional blower-of-minds – is retiring.

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At a press conference held yesterday at the Canadian Space Agency's headquarters, Hadfield told a standing-room only audience: "I'm making good on a promise I made to his wife nearly 30 years ago — that yes, eventually, we would be moving back to Canada." His retirement is effective July 3rd.

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Illustration for article titled Beloved ISS Commander Chris Hadfield Is Retiring

"To say goodbye to these good people today," Hadfield later tweeted, in reference to the crowd of CSA employees gathered to see him off, "was much harder than I expected":

“I’ve had such an interesting career and after 35 years it’s time to step down,” Commander Hadfield was quoted as saying by the CBC. “I’m the last astronaut of my class that’s still around.”

Illustration for article titled Beloved ISS Commander Chris Hadfield Is Retiring
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“Chris Hadfield has inspired all Canadians, especially our next-generation of scientists and engineers,” Chris Alexander, parliamentary secretary for defense, said in a statement.

Illustration for article titled Beloved ISS Commander Chris Hadfield Is Retiring
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“His exceptional career achievements make him a true Canadian hero and icon.”

Hear, hear.

Illustration for article titled Beloved ISS Commander Chris Hadfield Is Retiring
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We wish Hadfield all the best – and while we know we shouldn't expect him to maintain his impressive social media presence, we're optimistic that he'll stick around in some capacity. On a related note, we hope that more astronauts, moving forward, will take a page or two from Hadfield's playbook when it comes to engaging with the public about science and space.

When Hadfield returned to Earth from the ISS in May, we put together a roundup of our favorite moments from his time aboard humanity's orbital outpost. In light of his impending retirement, it seems fitting to post it here again. So long, Commander Hadfield – and, as always, thanks for all the awesome.

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All images via NASA

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DISCUSSION

Personally, something about this bothers me.

Cmdr. Hadfield's career and accomplishments should teach us one very important lesson that I think we've been missing. He's not a Canadian, he's a human being. An Earthling.

This is important to note because of his position. The science and exploration of space. The lengths to which that will go, soon even, is interplanetary travel. At that point, will we still be hung up on nationality, race, or religion? Will we meet other life-forms and say, "Oh hai! I'm Irish!" or "Hello, I'm a Human from the Planet Earth."

I don't think his achievements or lessons are inspiring to just Canadians. I'm an American, sadly too old and poor to afford a trip into outer space, but I still find him inspiring, and I'll be sure to introduce my son to his accomplishments and videos, just as I had a fascination with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and the astronauts of my day. I'm sure people around the world who have read the Commander's tweets and/or watched his videos were awed and inspired by him.

Point is. What he's done for the scientific community has nothing to do with Nationality, yet for some reason, the media continues to feel it necessary to bring it up.