Reuters logo
First Canadian takes command of International Space Station
March 14, 2013 / 12:05 AM / 5 years ago

First Canadian takes command of International Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield took the helm of the International Space Station on Wednesday, only the second time in the outpost’s 12-year history that command has been turned over to someone who is not American or Russian.

Taking advantage of a weightless environment onboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, Expedition 34 Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency juggles some tomatoes, which he probably considers to be among the more delicious components of a recent "package" that arrived from Earth, in this Handout photo courtesy of NASA, taken March 3, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

“It’s a huge honor and a privilege for me, but also for all the people at the Canadian Space Agency and for my entire country,” Hadfield, 53, said during a change of command ceremony aboard the station broadcast on NASA Television.

“Thank you very much for giving me the keys to the family car,” Hadfield told outgoing station commander Kevin Ford, who is due to depart on Thursday along with Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin.

“We’re going to put some miles on it, but we’ll bring it back in good shape,” Hadfield said.

Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin have been aboard the station, a $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 250 miles above Earth, since October.

Command of the station, a project of 15 nations that has been permanently staffed since November 2000, normally rotates between primary partners United States and Russia.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, Expedition 34 flight engineer, watches a water bubble float freely between him and the camera, showing his image refracted, in the Unity node of the International Space Station, in this handout photo courtesy of NASA, taken January 21, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

But in May 2009, Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne became the first station commander from the European Space Agency.

Hadfield, a veteran of two space shuttle missions, is the station’s first Canadian commander.

Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield is pictured in this official portrait in an EMU suit, prior to the launch of mission Expedition 34/35, taken on July 19, 2011. REUTERS/Canadian Space Agency/Robert Markowitz

Hadfield will be part of a three-man skeleton crew until NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin arrive later this month.

Hadfield, astronaut Thomas Marshburn and cosmonaut Roman Romanenko have been aboard the station since December 21. They are due to return to Earth on May 13.

Among Hadfield’s first duties as commander is overseeing the packing and release of the visiting Space Exploration Technologies’ Dragon cargo capsule. The capsule, making a second resupply run for NASA, is due to depart the station on March 25.

Hadfield has taken to Twitter to share his experiences in orbit with short messages and pictures dispatched several times a day. His followers now number more than 512,000.

“My heartfelt congratulations to Commander Hadfield and his family on what is an important milestone for all Canadians,” Canada’s Industry Minister Christian Paradis said in a statement.

Editing by Kevin Gray and Phil Berlowitz

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below