“Good morning, Earth.” That is how Colonel Chris Hadfield—writing on Twitter—woke up the world every day while living aboard the International Space Station for over five months. Since blasting off from Kazakhstan in December 2012, Hadfield has become a worldwide sensation, harnessing the power of social media to make outer space accessible to millions and infusing a sense of wonder into the collective consciousness not felt since man first walked on the moon. Called “the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong,” Hadfield, now safely back on Earth, continues to bring the glory of science and space travel to everyone he encounters.
Hadfield is the pioneer of many “firsts.” In 1992, he was selected by the Canadian Space Agency as a NASA Mission Specialist, Canada’s first fully-qualified Space Shuttle crewmember. Three years later, he was the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm in space, and the first Canadian to board a Russian spacecraft as he helped build the Russian space station, “Mir.” In 2001, Hadfield performed two spacewalks the first Canadian to do so and in 2010 the CSA and NASA announced Hadfield’s third mission: commanding the International Space Station (ISS), again a first for a Canadian.
Hadfield launched into space on December 19, 2012 and took command of the ISS in March, 2013. His multiple daily Tweets and photographs from space made people see the world differently. His accessibility, whether answering questions such as, “How do you wring out a washcloth in space,” via Skype or collaborating with The Barenaked Ladies for a song sung by nearly a million people simultaneously, endeared him to all while he orbited Earth.
A heavily decorated astronaut, engineer, and pilot, Hadfield’s many awards include receiving the Order of Ontario, the Meritorious Service Cross, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. He was named the Top Test Pilot in both the US Air Force and the US Navy, and has been inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. He is also commemorated on Canadian postage stamps, Royal Canadian Mint silver and gold coins, and on Canada’s newest five dollar bill.