Astronaut Chris Hadfield gets meritorious service medal from governor-general

LONGUEUIL, – Just days before his retirement, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has received a special honour for his exceptional accomplishments during his last space mission.

A meritorious service medal was pinned on Hadfield by Governor-General David Johnston during a special presentation today at the Canadian Space Agency.

The space veteran was awarded the civilian version of the Meritorious Service Cross, becoming the first Canadian to hold both the civil and military decorations of the honour.

Hadfield spent five months on the International Space Station and became the first Canadian to command the giant orbiting space lab during his last mission.

He became known worldwide for his tweets, breathtaking photos of Earth and his entertaining videos of life in space.

The three-time space traveller ended up with more than one million followers on Twitter, after starting out with 20,000 when he blasted off for the space station in mid-December.

During the medal presentation, the governor-general praised Hadfield’s use of communications technologies, which he described as truly innovative.

But Johnston added it was Hadfield’s passion and personality which made the astronaut’s outreach an enormous success.

The 53-year-old astronaut, who is retiring on July 3, called it a great honour to receive the medal.

Hadfield said it also was a symbol of recognition for the work done by people at the space agency who have toiled for years to help him accomplish his mission.