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General Walter Natynczyk, president of the Canadian Space Agency, is pictured in Toronto on September 29, 2014.

Darren Calabrese/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The head of the Canadian Space Agency is leaving the position after barely more than a year on the job.

Walt Natynczyk will become deputy veterans affairs minister, effective this coming Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement Wednesday.

Natynczyk had been head of the space agency since August 2013, when he replaced former Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean.

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In a separate statement released by the space agency, Natynczyk said it was an honour to have served as its president. He added that no matter where he is, he will continue to support Canada's space program.

The retired military general served as the Canadian Forces' chief of defence staff from 2008 to 2012.

Iain Christie, executive vice-president of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, expressed surprise when informed of the move.

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