“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.
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.
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.
“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.