The first person to participate in a Twitter exchange 'as gaeilge' from outer space has taken command of the International Space Station.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield has become the first Canadian to assume command of the space station.

He took off for the ISS in December for a 147-day mission and in February he tweeted a night-time photograph of Dublin taken from the ISS with a message partly in Irish.

@Cmdr_Hadfield: Tá Éire fíorálainn! Land of green hills & dark beer. With Dublin glowing in the Irish night.

He took the helm of the ISS as three astronauts from the previous mission departed for home.

The ISS orbits the Earth from a distance of 350km, circling the planet every 90 minutes at a speed of 28,000km/h.

Commander Hadfield will oversee the station's operations, including more than 100 scientific experiments, and will be responsible for the safety of the crew and the station.