Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield - First Canadian Commander of the International Space Station

Longueuil, Quebec, March 13, 2013 – Today, the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), celebrated a historic milestone in Canadian space exploration as Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield became the first Canadian Commander of the International Space Station (ISS).

"My heartfelt congratulations to Commander Hadfield and his family on what is an important milestone for all Canadians" said Minister Paradis. "Our Government will continue to be a proud and committed partner in the International Space Station and ensure our space sector continues to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity."

During the change of command ceremony with his predecessor Commander Kevin Ford (NASA), Hadfield spoke of his pride in representing Canada and commanding the world's space science laboratory. During his command, he will oversee station operations, including over 100 scientific experiments, and be responsible for the safety of the crew and the station.

"The Canadian Space Agency congratulates Commander Hadfield for this exceptional career achievement. It is the result of years of dedication and hard work," stated Gilles Leclerc, CSA Acting President. "The appointment also recognizes Canada's contribution to the International Space Station program – the teams on the ground who support space operations and the advanced robust robotics that have built the Station."

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield launched to the Station on December 19, 2012 and will stay aboard until May 13, 2013, when he is due to return to Earth in a Soyuz capsule. He is the second national outside of the US and Russia to command the station and its crew.

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