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Mission Specialist Steve MacLean installing solar arrays on the space station, Wednesday. ((NASA TV/Associated Press))

Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean was beaming Saturday when he talked about his first-ever spacewalk during a news conference broadcast live from outer space.

"Boy, am I ever high!" he said to himself as he took his first steps out of the International Space Station. It was "a wonderful feeling … It's an experience I can only live once."

MacLean, 51, became only the second Canadian to walk in space when he climbed out of the door on Wednesday, following in the footsteps of Chris Hadfield, who became the first Canadian spacewalker in April 2001.

But the Ottawa-born astronaut didn't have much time to sightsee on what was a very businesslike foray outside the space capsule.

As MacLean talked about his pioneering mission, his wife and three teenaged children watched on a giant TV screen in an auditorium in the Canadian Space Agency's headquarters south of Montreal.

During his spacewalk last Wednesday, MacLean and crewmate Dan Burbank helped install new solar panels that will boost power to the space station. Aside from a few problems removing bolts, the walk went off without incident, MacLean said.

MacLean was one of several astronauts who have ventured outside their capsule on the 11-day mission to work on the new $372-million US solar panel. The solar panel was unfurled on Thursday and modified on Friday.

Future trips

During his media conference, MacLean said his work on the space station may pave the way for future trips to the moon and possibly Mars.

"The work that we're doing on the space station is, in a way, preparing us for these future missions," MacLean said. "And I really believe that the Canadian Space Agency can play a major role and a key part of that kind of a mission."

And he hopes he will be there to help.

"It would be great to be able to participate at some level, so I look forward to doing that," he said.

The space shuttle Atlantis is expected to undock from the space station on Sunday and return to Earth shortly after. It will be replaced by a Russian Soyuz capsule, which will take two crewmembers and a space tourist into space.

Iranian-born Anousheh Ansari will be the fourth space tourist and the first female.