The Calgary Stampede launched into its second century with none other than Col. Chris Hadfield as the parade marshal. Hadfield is the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space and the first to command the International Space Station (ISS)–Canadian Space Agency. The announcement came on the heels of a twitter exchange between Commander Hadfield and the Calgary Stampede. The conversation culminated in a video invitation from Calgary Stampede president and chairman Bob Thompson. Commander Hadfield accepted the invitation from space and in doing so has become one of the few people twice honoured with the Parade Marshal role; Hadfield was previously Marshal in the 2001 Calgary Stampede Parade.
“The Calgary Stampede is an iconic event; to be asked to lead the Parade is an incredible honour,” says Hadfield. “Going from zero gravity to horseback is going to be a huge adjustment, but I’m up for the challenge.” On December 19, 2012, Hadfield launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS and returned to Earth on May 13. Commander Hadfield created a worldwide impact by connecting and re-connecting us Earth dwellers with the wonder of space via social media, sharing his daily life via photos, videos and status updates. In the process he amassed over 1 million followers on Twitter. In October, his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, will be released.