David Saint-Jacques says family is biggest priority ahead of space station mission

The first Canadian astronaut set to head to the International Space Station since Chris Hadfield is in the final stretch.

Saint-Jacques to take part in more than 250 experiments during 6-month mission with 2 other astronauts

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will travel to the International Space Station in December with two other astronauts. (Pascal Dumont/CBC )

The first Canadian astronaut set to head to the International Space Station since Chris Hadfield is in the final stretch.

If all goes as planned, on Dec. 20, David Saint-Jacques, along with NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, will be on the way to the ISS as Expedition Crew 58/59.

The three-person crew is scheduled to launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Saint-Jacques said the biggest part of his preparation as he gets ready to depart is making sure his family is OK. He said he wants to make sure everything in his life is in order before he leaves to spend six months in what he called a "very far place."

The 48-year-old astronaut is the father of three children: two boys, aged seven and five, and a two-year-old girl.

Saint-Jacques added his space colleagues are also thinking of their families, with just over three months left before they leave.

"This is a huge opportunity, a huge privilege to do this on behalf of all Canadians, to leave planet Earth to go live on our spaceship," Saint-Jacques told CBC News in December.

During the six-month mission, Saint-Jacques will take part in roughly 250 research and technology experiments.

An engineer, astrophysicist and family doctor from Saint-Lambert, Que., he will be Canada's ninth astronaut from the Canadian Space Agency to head into space. 

Saint-Jacques has some big shoes to fill.

In December 2012, Hadfield launched to ISS, kicking off five months of sharing the experience by posting photos, tweeting and showing the public what living in space was really like. He became a worldwide celebrity and since retiring in 2013, he has continued to do public outreach.

"Canadians have so many reasons to be proud of our contributions to our space program," Saint-Jacques said. "We are part of that club of nations that are pushing the boundaries of humanity."

Canada's next astronaut to walk in space

5 years ago
Duration 10:16
Canada's next astronaut to walk in space will be David Saint-Jacques, adding to the growing list of accolades for the Quebec City native. An engineer, physician and astrophysicist, Saint-Jacques also has his commercial pilot's license and speaks five languages. The National traveled to the Johnson Space Centre in Houston for an up close look at the making of an astronaut

With files from The Canadian Press


Nicole Mortillaro

Senior reporter, science

Based in Toronto, Nicole covers all things science for CBC News. As an amateur astronomer, Nicole can be found looking up at the night sky appreciating the marvels of our universe. She is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the author of several books. In 2021, she won the Kavli Science Journalism Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for a Quirks and Quarks audio special on the history and future of Black people in science. You can send her story ideas at


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