Baikonur, Kazakhstan — Chris Hadfield has successfully blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a mission that is to see him become the first Canadian to command the International Space Station.
Hadfield is travelling to the space station on board a Russian Soyuz capsule for a five-month visit to the giant orbiting space lab. He is sharing the trip to the space station with NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko.
Governor-General David Johnston called Hadfield’s launch “a great day for Canada, a great day for the world of discovery and innovation.”
He joined the families of Canadian Space Agency employees at its headquarters south of Montreal to watch the event on a giant TV screen.
“We’re so proud that Chris Hadfield now is up in space — the first Canadian to be commanding the space station in March,” he said. “And now we simply pray for a continued safe mission and a safe return.”
During his stay, Hadfield, an avid guitar player, plans to do some strumming to help him deal with homesickness. The 53-year-old space veteran will also be involved with more than 130 experiments including Micro-flow, a Canadian blood-sampling experiment which he compared to a hospital in a box.
During the second half of his mission, Hadfield will become the first Canadian to command the space station.
This is Hadfield’s third space journey.