Canada’s most famous space man, Colonel Chris Hadfield, became commander of Expedition 35 aboard the International Space Station this week.
Here are 10 facts about Hadfield that you need to know.
1. He Grew Up On a Corn Farm in Milton, Ontario
Colonel Chris Hadfield had a typical rural Canadian upbringing in Milton, Ontario on his parents’ corn farm. He became interested in space and flying at a very young age, and is said to have been inspired to become an astronaut by watching the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. He told CBC reporter Bob McDonald that he knew as a child that space is where he wanted to be, and the only way to get there was to be the best.
2. He Is Married With Three Children
Hadfield married his high-school sweetheart Helene, and they remain married to this day. They share three adult children.
3. He Skis, Runs, Rides Horses And Plays Volleyball and Squash When on Earth
Extremely athletic, Hadfield taught skiing and ski racing for 10 years as a young adult. He is said to also love running, volleyball and squash, and works out frequently aboard the International Space Station.
4. He Did His Post-Graduate Studies in Canada and the U.S.
After graduating from high school in Milton, Ontario Hadfield received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering (with honours) from the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario in 1982, and then conducted post-graduate research at the University of Waterloo in 1982. He eventually received his Masters of Science in aviation systems at the University of Tennessee in 1992.
5. He Joined the Canadian Armed Forces at 19, And Retired As a Colonel After 25 Years of Service
As a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, Hadfield earned a glider pilot scholarship at age 15 and a powered pilot scholarship at age 16. After graduating from high school, he joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1978 and spent two years at the Royal Roads Military College followed by two years at the Royal Military College.
Before graduating, he underwent basic flight training at CFB Portage la Prairie, and in 1983 he took honours as the top graduate from Basic Jet Training at CFB Moose Jaw. He went on to train as a tactical fighter pilot flying the Canadair CF-116 Freedom Fighter and the McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet. After completing his fighter pilot training, Hadfield flew CF-18 Hornets, participating in intercept missions for NORAD. He was the first CF-18 pilot to intercept a Soviet Tupolev Tu 95 long-range bomber in the Canadian Arctic.
Hadfield was the Director of Operations for NASA at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia from 2001-2003. Now a civilian astronaut, Hadfield retired from the Canadian Air Force in 2003 as a Colonel after 25 years of military service.
6. He Was the First Canadian to Walk in Space, the First Canadian to Operate the Canadarm in Orbit, and the Only Canadian to Ever Board Mir
In November 1995 Hadfield served as Mission Specialist 1 on NASA’s second mission to Russian Space Station Mir. During the flight, the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis attached a five-tonne docking module to Mir and transferred over 1,000 kg of food, water and supplies.
Hadfield flew as the first Canadian mission specialist, the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm in orbit, and the only Canadian to ever board Mir.
7. He Was the Commander of NEEMO 14 and Lived in an Underwater Facility off the Florida Coast for 13 Days
NEEMO, an acronym for NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, is a program for studying human survival in an underwater laboratory in preparation for future space exploration.
Located 62 feet underwater, NASA has used it since 2001 for a series of missions usually lasting 10-14 days. Crew members are called aquanauts instead of “divers”.
8. He Has Been Living on the ISS Since December 2012, and Commander of Expedition 35 Since March 13
In September 2010 Hadfield was assigned to Expedition 34/35 aboard the ISS. In December 2012 he launched into space aboard the Russian Soyuz, becoming the second Canadian ever to take part in a long spaceflight aboard the ISS.
On March 13 he became the first Canadian to command a spaceship as Commander of the ISS. He is expected to remain in space until May 2013.
9. He Plays Guitar and Sings
While in space Hadfield recorded a song, Jewel in the Night, that was written by his brother Dave. It is believed to be the first ever song recorded in space.
An avid guitarist and singer, Hadfield hopes to lay down tracks for an entire album recorded in zero gravity. While in space he’s also performed with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies and the Chieftains for Music Mondays.
10. He Has a Huge Twitter and Facebook Following
This Chilean rock looks like it’s still wet. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 14, 2013
His sons Evan and Kyle help manage his massive following on Facebook and Twitter.
Sunrise in the Cupola. With no atmosphere to filter and diffuse the light, our star is incredibly harsh. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 14, 2013