Chris Hadfield — the astronaut who brought space travel closer to everyday folk via his Twitter blog — is retiring from the space program and moving back to Canada.
The 53-year-old recently returned from a six-month stay on the International Space Station (ISS), where he filmed himself covering the David Bowie classic "Space Oddity" in a video that has since been viewed nearly 16 million times on YouTube.
Hadfield, whose professional exploits include flying fighter jets during the Cold War, and missions to the Russian space station MIR in 1995 and the ISS in 2001 embraced social media during his time in orbit.
In an effort to bring people closer to his experiences in space, he posted scores of stunning photos on the internet, tweeted under the name @Cmdr-Hadfield, and partook in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" live chat.
He announced his retirement at a press conference at the Canadian Space Agency headquarters in Montreal, saying his time as an astronaut had been an "incredible adventure", London's Daily Telegraph reported.
"In about a month I'll be retiring from the Canadian Space Agency and just pursuing private interests, and getting my feet planted on the soil and seeing where the future takes me."
In a statement published by the Canadian Space Agency he added:
"I am extremely proud to have shared my experience. I will continue to reinforce the importance of space exploration through public speaking and will continue to visit Canadian schools through the CSA."
Hadfield said he was still adapting to gravity since landing with American astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko.
His heart shrank and he has lost skeletal mass, hut he said he expected to be "almost back to normal" by Labor Day.
He will retire on July 3.