VICTORIA, British Columbia — Steve MacLean, the president of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), announced Jan. 15 that he will be leaving the agency in the coming weeks.

MacLean told staff that he will leave Feb. 1 to assume a position in a new venture to be created by Mike Lazaridis, founder of the company Research in Motion, which created and manufactures the Blackberry handheld device.

MacLean, a former Canadian astronaut, has been serving as president of the CSA since 2008.

In his new position MacLean will be leading a team pursuing breakthrough scientific research and development in the highly specialized field of quantum physics, the CSA announced in a statement.

One of the original six Canadian astronauts, MacLean joined the country’s astronaut program in 1983. He completed two missions in space before assuming responsibility as CSA president.

The Canadian government has not yet announced who will replace MacLean.

David Pugliese covers space policy and developments in the space industry in Canada. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and a degree in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.