The Canadian Space Agency
CBC News Online | July 12, 2005
It’s pretty tough to have a space program without an organization to
oversee it. Canada had an astronaut in 1983, but no agency dedicated to mapping
out the country’s space program.
Canada is contributing an essential component of the International Space Station, the Mobile Servicing System (MSS), which consists of three elements: the Space Station Remote Manipulator System, or manipulator arm, the Mobile Remote Servicer Base System, and the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator. The MSS is built for the Canadian Space Agency by the Canadian company MD Robotics. (CP PHOTO/HO/Canadian Space Agency)
Almost a quarter-century earlier, Canada officially entered the space age
after NASA agreed to launch Alouette I, a satellite that was designed to study
the ionosphere. Three years later, when John Glenn became the first American
to orbit Earth, a Canadian-made antenna went along for the ride.
Later in 1962, Relay-1, a communication satellite built by RCA Limited, was
launched. The transponder onboard the spacecraft was provided by a microwave
group at the RCA plant in Montreal the first Canadian-built hardware
in a communications satellite.
Canada was establishing its role as a supplier of space technology. That role
would be solidified 12 years later when NASA awarded Canada the responsibility
of designing, developing and building the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System
(SRMS) for the space shuttle program.
The result was the 15-metre robotic arm known as Canadarm. NASA ordered four
other Canadarms from Spar Aerospace Limited of Brampton, Ont.
On Nov. 13, 1981, Canadarm made its debut aboard the space shuttle Columbia.
Fifty missions and 7,000 Earth orbits later, the robotic arm has yet to malfunction.
In 1983, NASA decided that if Canada’s equipment was good enough for
its space program, maybe its people could make it as astronauts, as well.
When the call went out from the National Research Council of Canada, 4,000
people responded. Six were chosen, including Marc Garneau. A year later he
would become the first Canadian in space.
Workers in the Orbiter Processing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., install the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), also known as the Canadian robotic arm, on the orbiter Discovery, Friday, Oct. 15, 2004. The RMS will be used to deploy and retrieve payloads, and to aid the crew members in viewing surfaces of the orbiter. Discovery is scheduled to be the next shuttle launched. (AP Photo/NASA)
In May 1985, the National Research Council created a Space Division to manage
the Canadian Astronaut Program Office and Canada's new Space Station Program.
Four years later, responsibility for the astronaut program was handed over
to the new Canadian Space Agency.
The agency has four other core functions:
- Space programs.
- Space technologies.
- Space science.
- Space operations.
The CSA has more than 600 employees and is headquartered in St-Hubert, Que.,
southeast of Montreal. The president of the agency is the first Canadian in
space: Marc Garneau assumed the job on Nov. 22, 2001.
The agency does more than hire astronauts. However, if you want to become
one, the agency makes the following recommendations:
- Earn at least one advanced degree in science or engineering.
- Become proficient in more than one discipline.
- Develop your public speaking skills, preferably in both official languages.
- Demonstrate concern for others by taking part in community activities.
- Maintain your physical fitness.
- OPTIONAL: learn to skydive, scuba dive, and/or pilot an airplane.
Once selected for the astronaut program, astronaut candidates undergo continuous
and rigorous training to prepare for missions onboard the space shuttle and/or
the International Space Station (ISS).
To confirm that you are well suited to working in space, you may also want
The last time the Space Agency put out a call for astronauts in 1992
it received 5,000 replies. It hired four new astronauts.
- Develop an understanding of topics in aerospace.
- Work for an aerospace company to get hands-on experience.
- Attend the International Space University (ISU).