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A look at Chris Hadfield, the Canadian who made space cool

Commander Chris Hadfield became the first Canadian to command the International Space Station on March 13, 2013. His unsurpassed enthusiasm once again made space popular among mainstream society. NASA

“Good morning, Earth.”

That is how Commander Chris Hadfield — using Twitter to greet everyone on Earth — started his mornings while living aboard the space station for over 5 months.

It was his way of communicating with the masses — making it feel as though he was talking and sharing his experiences with each and every person on Earth — that made Hadfield so popular.

Since blasting off from Kazakhstan on December 19, 2012, Hadfield has become an international sensation, making space accessible to millions around the world. His photos of Earth from space set the Twitterverse afire. He has over 869,000 followers on Twitter. And now, the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station is heading home.

Hadfield brought stunning photos of our planet into our homes. "Tonight's Finale: Our Sun is immensely, unfathomably powerful," Hadfield tweeted on May 6, 2013. NASA
Commander Chris Hadfield became the first Canadian to command the International Space Station on March 13, 2013. His unsurpassed enthusiasm once again made space popular among mainstream society. NASA
Calgary, Alberta, as seen from the International Space Station. Hadfield made photos like this bring the world to everyday people. NASA
Hadfield trained for extra-vehicular activity (EVA) in preparation for any possible spacewalks. Here, he is seen getting dressed at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. NASA
Chris Hadfield trains in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The underwater environment is similar to the conditions under which astronauts work while performing spacewalks. NASA
Chris Hadfield's first day on the space station, December 21, 2012. NASA
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Chris Hadfield celebrates Christmas aboard the ISS. Clockwise (from top right) are NASA astronaut Kevin Ford, commander; Chris Hadfield, Russian cosmonauts Evgeny Tarelkin and Roman Romanenko, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, all flight engineers. NASA
Chris Hadfield poses with the Canadian flag in the cupola of the International Space Station. Hadfield returned to Earth on May 13. The Canadian Press
Reflecting on the Toronto Maple Leafs playoff game against the Boston Bruins, Hadfield tweeted, "Tonight's Finale: Toronto. Go Leafs Go!" on May 4, 2013. NASA
"Canada rocks," Hadfield tweeted when he posted this photo of the Canadian Rockies on May 12, 2013. Chris Hadfield/NASA
While aboard the ISS, Chris Hadfield brought music from space, performing with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, as well as children from across Canada. NASA
Chris Hadfield looks out of the space station's cupola window at the Canadarm. NASA
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Although Chris Hadfield was extremely active on social media, it wasn't all fun and games -- there was a lot of science to be done. Here, he is seen working with the Microgravity Science Glovebox. NASA
"Dr. Seuss-inspired swirls in the Black Sea." .
Chris Hadfield, seen here in 2001 during the STS-100 mission. Working in space is a dangerous business, especially when undertaking spacewalks. NASA
Hadfield gets ready to set up the SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV), a Celestron telescope that will serve as an environmental monitoring system, helping developing nations during natural disasters. NASA
Commander Chris Hadfield looks through a bubble of water. NASA

Born in Sarnia, Ontario, on August 29, 1959, Hadfield grew up in Milton, Ontario. He says that watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon made him fall in love with space.

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He graduated from the Royal Canadian Military College with a degree in mechanical engineering and completed flight training in 1983, graduating first in his class. He also graduated from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School in 1988 as the first in his class.

Hadfield would make many firsts in Canadian space history. In 1992, he, along with three others, was chosen as Canada’s second class of astronauts. His first mission was to the Russian space station in 1995. He became the first Canadian to use the Canadarm as well as the first Canadian to board a Russian spacecraft.

In 2001, Hadfield served as a mission specialist on STS-100. He performed two spacewalks during the 11-day mission becoming the first Canadian to do so. He attached the second-generation Canadarm, Canadarm 2, to to the space station, a vital component that would be instrumental in building the station.

In 2010, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and NASA announced Hadfield’s third mission: commanding the space station. He launched into space on December 19, 2012 and took command of the International Space Station on March 13, 2013.

It would be this mission that he would soar to new heights. His multiple daily tweets from space made people see the world differently. His Twitter conversation with William Shatner, known as Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series, went viral. Even Queen Elizabeth tweeted the station commander.

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“Who’d have thought that 5 months away from the planet would make you feel closer to people,” Hadfield said, reflecting on his time aboard the International Space Station. “This experience is not individual, but it’s shared and it’s mutual and it’s worldwide.”

On May 11, 2013, after he and his crew discovered an ammonia leak on the station, he commanded both American astronauts Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn as they made repairs to the faulty pump responsible for the leak.

Hadfield is heading home on Monday and is scheduled to land in the desert of Kazakhstan at 10:31 p.m.

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