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Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield - who sang David Bowie's 'Space Oddity' in space - to retire

First Canadian to command the International Space Station shared experiences of living in space and celebrated Earth via his Twitter account

Ground control for Major Chris Hadfield will now be the home he shares with his wife after Canada’s singing astronaut announced his retirement from the space programme.

The former commander of the International Space Station captivated millions with his tweets, photos and YouTube videos, but said it was now time for re-entry into family life.

“I'm making good on a promise I made my wife nearly 30 years ago, that yes, eventually, we would be moving back to Canada,” he told reporters at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) headquarters near Montreal.

Hadfield, 53, had been based with Nasa in Houston with his wife, Helene, for more than 20 years, but the couple will now settle at their home in Ontario. The astronaut’s mission to space started there when, aged nine, he watched the Moon landings at his parent’s farm.

He first entered orbit in 1995 after serving as an air force test pilot. As commander of the space station for six months he became a social media pioneer, gaining more than a million followers on Twitter with updates an insight from 250 miles up.

The guitar-playing astronaut’s videos revealing how people eat, sleep and even cry in zero gravity became an internet sensation. He left orbit in style last month with a rendition of of David Bowie’s 1969 classic, Space Oddity, which has now been viewed almost 16 million times.

Hadfield was also credited with popularising space travel by sharing his wonder and inspiring children to engage in the sciences. His feet will now stay on the ground but he insisted his mission was not over.

“I will continue to reinforce the importance of space exploration through public speaking and will continue to visit Canadian schools through the CSA,” he said.

Helene, a chef and Hadfield’s wife of 31 years, talked about the future after her husband’s return to Earth last month. “We're always thinking about the next step, but really, at this point, all I know is anything Chris does is always an adventure,” she told Space.com. "No matter what he does, he really likes what he's doing.”