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Marc Garneau blasts off as Canada's first astronaut

His bravery is inspiring, his grace is charming and his credentials are out of this world. In 1984 Marc Garneau became the first Canadian to fly on a NASA mission to space. During his 15 years as an astronaut, Garneau flew three times and made countless contributions to the Canadian space program, eventually becoming its president. On the ground or in the air, Garneau has been a passionate educator and trailblazer for space exploration.

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"Stand by for the ride of your life," the captain announces. It's dawn at Cape Canaveral. Marc Garneau and six American astronauts are about to blast off.
In this clip, Garneau's family and friends share their reactions to watching Marc take flight. Astronaut Roberta Bondar glows with enthusiasm, while Marc's mother has a bit of maternal trepidation.

For the two hours leading up to launch, and for the launch itself, Garneau lies on his back with his knees pressed to his belly. At blast-off, the force of three times normal gravity causes the blood to drain from his face and makes it difficult to even move.
After eight minutes, the engines turn off and everything is quiet. The astronauts then detach themselves from their seats and float.
• From his seat on the Challenger shuttle, Garneau could only stare at a row of white lockers. He didn't get a window seat until his later flights. Once in space, however, everyone gets plenty of time to gaze out at earth.
• At launch, Garneau's heart rate raced to 130 beats per minute. After the engines were cut, it returned to a more normal 80–90.

• Garneau was the second non-American to go into space on a NASA flight. The first was Ulf Merbold, from Germany, who flew in 1983. Selected only ten months before flying, Garneau had the shortest training period in NASA's history. He arrived in Houston two months before the flight and was trained only in the essentials – preparing food, using the bathroom, communicating, and knowing how to handle emergencies.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Oct. 5, 1984
Host: George McLean
Reporter: Eve Savory
Duration: 3:12

Last updated: October 3, 2014

Page consulted on October 7, 2014

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