Canadian Dave Williams bound for space station

Canadian Space Agency announces David Williams will conduct three spacewalks at International Space Station.

Canadian astronaut Dr. Dave Williams will head to the International Space Station and conduct three spacewalks to expand the orbiting laboratory, the Canadian Space Agency announced Thursday.

CSA President Marc Garneau said Williams, 48, will return to active status after directing NASA's space and life sciences division at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for four years.

"I can't think of a better Christmas present," said Williams. "This one, when you open it up says, 'some assembly required.'"

Williams' mission, scheduled for Nov. 2003, includes three spacewalks. During the first one, astronauts will install a new truss onto the starboard side of ISS. The extensions will eventually hold solar panels.

During the second and third spacewalks, astronauts will use the shuttle's original Canadarm and the station's Canadarm2 to hand over payloads weighing several hundred pounds.

He said the Canadarm2's robotics involve a new level of complexity that will allow astronauts to step onto the station's Mobile Base System, a moveable work platform and storage facility.

In 1998, Williams took part in a life science mission on space shuttle Columbia.