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Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield poses for a photo in this undated handout photo. The Royal Canadian Institute has selected Mr. Hadfield to receive its Sandford Fleming medal for contributions to the public understanding of science.

Chris Hadfield/The Canadian Press

Chris Hadfield has announced he's retiring from the space program and moving back to Canada after decades away from home.

The famous astronaut announced Monday that he is leaving the Canadian Space Agency next month, and will also be leaving behind his longtime home of Houston, Texas, where he built his career as an astronaut.

He made the announcement at a news conference at the Canadian agency's headquarters, near Montreal, in his first such event in Canada since his return from space.

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"(I'll be) making good on a promise I made my wife nearly 30 years ago — that yes, eventually, we would be moving back to Canada," Hadfield said.

"I'm looking forward to the next phase of life."

He said he's ready to pursue private interests, outside government.

Hadfield said he hasn't decided what he will do next, but plans to do presentations on space while reflecting over the coming year on his next move. He offered such a presentation Monday, using his news conference to show videos and photos of his time in space.

Hadfield gained international prominence during his recent six-month trip to the International Space Station, where he used social media to share experiments, photographs and even a memorable music video.

He says he's recovering his physical strength while readjusting to gravity and he expects to be back to normal by around Labour Day.

Hadfield says he's lost up to five per cent of his bone density in some areas. On the other hand, he says, because he exercised two hours a day while in space he's able to bench-press more than he used to.

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He explained that he wants to take his time deciding what to do next, because he knows of astronauts who have struggled to adjust to life after the space program.

Hadfield said he'll hope to have a better idea in about a year's time.

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