Chris Hadfield becomes ISS commander

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:46 PM ET

In an informal changing of the guard on board the International Space Station Wednesday afternoon, Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield took over the controls.

At 5:10 p.m. ET, Hadfield became the first Canadian astronaut to command the ISS.

Standing before a video camera beaming the transfer of command to Earth, U.S. astronaut Kevin Ford, commander of Expedition 34, handed over command of the space station to Hadfield, who will lead Expedition 35.

Before the changing of command, Ford played O Canada, for which all the astronauts on board the ISS stood, their knees slightly bent to counter the zero gravity of space.

"You do me a tremendous honour playing that song for me and for my country," said Hadfield.

The 53-year-old went into space on Dec. 19 and arrived at the space station on Dec. 21 for a five-month mission.

Hadfield thanked the crew of Expedition 34 for being "great friends" and showing the crew of the new expedition how to live in space.

"Thank you very much for giving me the keys to the family car," Hadfield said. "We're going to put some miles on it, but we'll bring it back in good shape."

Along with conducting scientific experiments and operating the Canadarm2, Hadfield has kept the world well-informed about his time as co-pilot at the ISS. Hadfield has held discussions with schoolchildren across the country talking about life in space and he's used Twitter to send information and photos of how the planet looks from his point of view in space.


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