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30 Years Ago, Marc Garneau Was Chosen To Be The First Canadian In Space
March 14, 2014
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In 1983, 30 years before Chris Hadfield orbited the earth in the International Space Station, the newly established Canadian Astronaut Program put out a call for Canada's first spacemen and women. They received more than 4,000 applications, and after a thorough vetting, whittled them down to a corps of just six. And on March 14, 1984, the program announced which one would be the first Canadian to be launched into space: a 35-year-old Navy commander named Marc Garneau.

In this story from CBC's The Journal, a young Garneau talks about his motivations for going into space: "This isn't an ego trip on my part, getting a chance to fulfill my personal ambition of going into space. There's a sacred trust here."

It didn't take long for Garneau to make good on that sacred trust: just over 200 days later, on October 5, the shuttle Challenger blasted off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center with a crew of seven (the largest ever at the time), including Payload Specialist Marc Garneau (a payload specialist is usually a non-NASA astronaut assigned to help out with research on a mission). Here's a clip from The National on that day:

Among Garneau's duties aboard Challenger during that mission were a series of 10 experiments in space technology and life sciences, including investigations into human adaptation to space flight. In this video from October 9, a somewhat giddy Garneau talks about the wonder of seeing his country from space.

Garneau would return to space twice, in 1996 and 2000 — and in 2001 he took over the Canadian Space Agency as president. In 2008, after an unsuccessful run two years earlier, he was elected as a Liberal MP for the riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie, which he remains to this day. 

In this radio interview on Sounds Like Canada in 2004, Garneau looked back with Shelagh Rogers on his extraordinary career in space.

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