CBC In Depth
INDEPTH: SPACE
The Canadian Space Agency
CBC News Online | July 12, 2005


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)
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.

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.


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)
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.

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 to:

  • Develop an understanding of topics in aerospace.
  • Work for an aerospace company to get hands-on experience.
  • Attend the International Space University (ISU).
The last time the Space Agency put out a call for astronauts – in 1992 – it received 5,000 replies. It hired four new astronauts.



^TOP
MENU

MAIN PAGE
SPACE: THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION SPACE TOURISM SPACE ELEVATOR RACE TO THE MOON
CANADA'S SPACE PROGRAM: CANADA AND THE SPACE SHUTTLE CANADIAN ASTRONAUTS THE CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY
MARS: PLANET PROFILE MARS MISSIONS CANADA'S ROLE ARCTIC RESEARCH CBC STORIES
INTERACTIVES: EXPLORATION OF MARS I.S.S. SPACE SHUTTLE ATLANTIS: THE CREW
PHOTO GALLERIES: Discovery landing Working mission Return to flight Opportunity Rover Images Spirit Rover Images View of Mars
CBC ARCHIVES: Marc Garneau Roberta Bondar Canada and its satellite program Man walks on the moon Canadarm — A technology star

RELATED:
CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks: Riding the Space Elevator (Nov. 3, 2001)

EXTERNAL LINKS:
CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external sites. Links will open in new window.

Ansari X Prize

da Vinci Project

Canadian Arrow

NASA Eclipse Home Page

Mr. Eclipse

MORE:
Print this page

Send a comment

Indepth Index