Canada's astronauts

Nine Canadians have flown into space — eight trained astronauts and one civilian. Canadians have flown on 13 manned NASA missions and two Russian Soyuz missions.
Canada's eight astronauts, posing for a photo at the John H. Chapman Space Centre in St. Hubert, Que., in 2003: Back row, left to right, Marc Garneau, Steve MacLean, Julie Payette, Dave Williams; front row, left to right, Roberta Bondar, Chris Hadfield, Robert Thirsk and Bjarni Tryggvason. ((Andre Pichette/Canadian Press))

Canadians in space

Learn more about their missions.

Nine Canadians have flown into space — eight trained astronauts and one civilian. Canadians have flown on 13 manned NASA missions and two Russian Soyuz missions.

The next Canadian in space will be Chris Hadfield when he launches aboard a Soyuz capsule in December 2012. Hadfield will become the first Canadian to command the International Space Station.

Here's a look at what each accomplished in space, and where they are today.

Marc Garneau

Marc Garneau. the first Canadian in space, is now a Liberal MP and the party's science, industry and technology critic. ((Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press))
Years in space: 1984, 1996, 2000

Hometown: Quebec City

Canada's first astronaut, Garneau was a member of the 1984 Challenger crew and performed a series of experiments, called CANEX, sponsored by the Canadian government.

Garneau returned to orbit in 1996 and 2000 on Endeavour, becoming the only Canadian to make three journeys to space. In 2000, he used the shuttle's Canadarm to install the first four solar panels on the International Space Station. In total, he logged 677 hours in space.

Garneau was president of the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 to 2005. In 2006, he ran unsuccessfully for federal office as a Liberal candidate in the rural Quebec riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, but won in the downtown Montreal riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie in 2008. He is currently the Liberals' science, industry and technology critic.

Roberta Bondar

Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar now keeps a busy schedule giving conferences on space and medicine. (Courtesy Roberta Bondar)
Year in space: 1992

Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Neurologist Bondar became Canada's first woman in space when she flew on the shuttle Discovery on Jan. 22, 1992. Bondar performed research into the effects of microgravity, lower body pressure and various pathological states on blood flow to the brain. She retired from the Canadian Space Agency later that year to continue her research while pursuing other ventures, including public speaking and photography. She served as chancellor of Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., from 2003 to 2009.

Steve MacLean

Former astronaut Steve MacLean addresses a news conference after being named the new head of the Canadian Space Agency. ((Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press))
Years in space: 1992, 2006

Hometown: Ottawa

Laser physicist MacLean began astronaut training in 1984 and was scheduled to first go into space aboard Atlantis in 1987. That mission was cancelled after the Challenger disaster.

MacLean first flew aboard space shuttle Columbia in 1992, when he performed a set of experiments called CANEX-2. Among those experiments was the Space Vision System, an experimental machine vision system to help astronauts guide robotic devices, such as the Canadarm.

MacLean was the project manager for designing similar "eyes" for both the shuttle's Canadarm and the International Space Station's Canadarm 2.

MacLean was set to go into orbit again in 2003 aboard Endeavour until the shuttle fleet was grounded after Columbia broke into pieces on Feb. 1 of that year, killing all seven astronauts aboard. He returned to space in 2006 aboard Atlantis as a member of the first space-station assembly mission since the Columbia disaster. He became the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm 2 in orbit and performed a seven-hour spacewalk to activate the station's solar panels.

MacLean was appointed president of the Canadian Space Agency in September 2008.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield pilots a tiny, one-person submarine in Pavilion Lake near Lillooet, B.C., in July 2010. Hadfield collected rock samples and took photos and videos of the unusual rock formations, called microbialites, deep beneath the lake's surface. ((Pavilion Lake Research Project) )

Chris Hadfield

Years in space: 1995, 2001

Hometown: Born in Sarnia, Ont., raised in Milton, Ont.

Veteran test pilot Hadfield made his first shuttle flight aboard Atlantis, becoming the first and only Canadian to board the Russian space station Mir. Hadfield returned to space on April 20, 2001, to make history by becoming Canada's first astronaut to walk in space. His second spacewalk of that mission took seven hours and 40 minutes to make repairs to the space station. He also became the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm 2 in space. Hadfield later told CBC News that conducting a spacewalk was a gruelling physical ordeal.

"If you could picture it, you first put on a suit of armour and then go jump in a lake and then perform the task. That's what it is like. You have to be strong and fit," he said.

Hadfield served as NASA's chief of International Space Station operations from 2006 to 2008. He trained as a backup for Robert Thirsk for his long-duration stay aboard the station.

Hadfield will begin a six-month mission aboard the ISS in December 2012 and will command the station during the second half of that mission. He will be the first Canadian to command the ISS.

Robert Thirsk

Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk waves as he rests inside a vehicle of the Russian Space Agency following his landing in December 2009 in northern Kazakhstan after six months in orbit. ((Shamil Zhumatov/Associated Press))
Years in space: 1996, 2009

Hometown: New Westminster, B.C.

Thirsk flew as a payload specialist aboard space shuttle Columbia's Life and Microgravity Spacelab mission. During the 17-day flight, he and six crewmates performed 43 experiments, some devoted to the study of changes in plants, animals and humans under space-flight conditions. Thirsk also trained as backup crewmember for a Russian Soyuz mission in 2005, the first Canadian astronaut to do so.

Thirsk became the first Canadian to complete a long-term stay in space when he lived aboard the International Space Station for six months in 2009. During his stay, Thirsk welcomed two other Canadians to the station, fellow astronaut Julie Payette and space tourist Guy Laliberté. The meeting of Thirsk and Payette on the ISS in July was the first time two Canadians met in space.

Thirsk has also used the station's robotic arm, Canadarm 2, to assist in the station's construction. In September, he assisted in the arm's capture of a Japanese cargo vessel, the first-ever capture of a free-flying spacecraft. He called "the first Canadian cosmic catch" the most exciting moment of his mission. Thirsk was also the first Canadian to launch and land aboard a Russian vessel.

Thirsk announced in October 2010 that his 2009 mission would be his last in space, and it was time to make room for the country's two newest astronauts, Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques.

Bjarni Tryggvason

Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason left the Canadian Space Agency in June 2008 after almost 25 years as an astronaut. ((Dave Chidley/Canadian Press))
Year in space: 1997

Hometown: Born in Reykjavik, Iceland, grew up in Richmond, B.C.

Tryggvason was one of the six Canadian astronauts selected in December 1983. He flew as a payload specialist in August 1997, aboard the space shuttle Discovery. On the mission, he performed fluid-science experiments of his own design to test how spacecraft vibrations affected other station experiments. He also designed a similar experiment that operated on the Russian Mir space station.

He retired from the Canadian Space Agency in June 2008 and is now a visiting professor at the University of Western Ontario in London. He has written more than 50 published papers and holds three patents.

Dave Williams

Years in space: 1998, 2007

Hometown: Born in Saskatoon, grew up in Montreal.

Canadian astronaut Dave Williams, right, and astronaut Rick Mastracchio are shown on the space shuttle Endeavour in 2007. ((NASA/Canadian Press/Associated Press))
Dafydd (Dave) Williams first flew on the space shuttle on April 17, 1998, where he participated in Neurolab, a 16-day mission aboard Columbia. The mission was dedicated to the advancement of neuroscience research, directing its attention to the effects of weightlessness on the nervous system.

As a member of Endeavour's crew in 2007, Williams made three spacewalks during a 12-day mission, the most by a Canadian. During that time, spent nearly 18 hours outside in space assembling the International Space Station, breaking the previous Canadian mark by colleague Chris Hadfield.

Williams retired from the CSA in 2008 and became director of the McMaster Centre for Medical Robotics at the St. Joseph's Healthcare facility in Hamilton, Ont.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette takes a moment for a photo on the flight deck of Endeavour during post-launch activities. Astronaut Doug Hurley, pilot, is visible in the background. ((Reuters/NASA))

Julie Payette

Years in space: 1999, 2009

Hometown: Montreal.

Canada's second woman in space flew on Discovery from May 27 to June 6, 1999, and orbited Earth 153 times over 10 days while aboard the shuttle and the International Space Station. Payette operated the robotic Canadarm while in orbit.

She worked as a capsule communicator at the Mission Control Center in Houston, helping co-ordinate communications between ground control and the astronauts in flight.

In July 2009, she became the first Canadian woman to return to space when she served as the flight engineer on the crew of the shuttle Endeavour during a mission to the space station.

While there, Payette visited with fellow Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk, who was six weeks into his six-month stay aboard the orbiting space laboratory.

In an interview with The Canadian Press in June 2010, Payette said she was not among the astronauts the Canadian Space Agency was considering for future flights. "The Canadian Space Agency doesn't have any plans for me," she said.

Guy Laliberté

Guy Laliberté wears a red clown nose during a video conference from the International Space Station.

Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté became Canada's first space tourist, and the first professional artist to fly in space, when he launched into space aboard a Russian rocket and boarded the International Space Station in October 2009.

Laliberté, who paid a reported $35 million US for the ride, promptly donned his signature red clown nose for a news conference from the ISS. He used the opportunity to draw attention to what he called the planet's water crisis.

"I don't have 25 years — the world doesn't have 25 years — to address the situation of water, so I think this was a great opportunity to combine a personal dream also, and having a greater benefit than just coming in space," said Laliberté.

The missions