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Astronaut Hadfield's flight suit lands in Canadian thrift store

Elizabeth Howell, News Writer
Mar 4, 2015, 3:24 UTC

Sen—One of astronaut Chris Hadfield's flight suits was accidentally donated to charity when the famed space voyager moved back to Canada, Hadfield's son said.

Evan Hadfield made the remarks after media reports emerged that a woman in Toronto, Julielynn Wong, discovered the flight suit in a thrift store on Queen Street West, a trending shopping area in Canada's largest city. Wong bought the suit for $40 Canadian (£20) and immediately made some inquiries.

"We're not even sure which box it was that got donated," wrote Evan Hadfield on Reddit in response to comments on a news story. "Moving 20+ years worth of stuff from Texas to Toronto immediately after returning from space has a way of losing track of some things."

The suit was originally intended for a science centre, and Evan Hadfield expressed hope that it would "find its way there somehow." His father had several flight suits and this particular one never flew in space, he added. Chris Hadfield has not yet commented on the story on social media.

According to CBC News, Wong attends a space education academy called the Challenger Learning Centre, which in Toronto is located at the Ontario Science Centre. She said the find was a huge surprise. "My jaw just dropped. I said, 'I can't believe it,' " Wong told the CBC. She did not discuss her plans for the flight suit in the news story.

In a country with a tiny astronaut corps, Hadfield has left a big impression on Canadians. The three-time spaceflier rocketed to international fame in 2012-13 during his last flight to the International Space Station, which included him assuming command of the orbiting complex.

Hadfield spent nearly a generation in the astronaut corps receiving plumb flight assignments due to his talents, including visiting the Russian Mir space station in the 1990s and becoming Canada's first spacewalker in 2001. On the ground, his positions included chief capcom for 25 shuttle missions and director of operations for NASA at Russia's cosmonaut training centre.

His last flight, however, took full advantage of social media in an era when Twitter, Facebook and other platforms were beginning to be embraced by journalists. Hadfield's tweets, pictures and videos from space attracted international attention. He also received comments from several celebrities on Twitter while in orbit, including a brief hail from Leonard Nimoy ("Spock" on the original "Star Trek.") Nimoy died last week at age 83, prompting a brief tribute from Hadfield on Twitter.

Hadfield retired from the Canadian Space Agency shortly after returning from his mission, which also received accolades for its scientific productivity and ability to respond to a last-minute ammonia leak. Since getting back on Earth, Hadfield has penned two books, taken part in numerous talks, and taught university students in the greater Toronto area.