Lesson 11 – Canada in Space

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Read About Canada in Space


Read the vocabulary terms to understand the reading better.

Canadarm is a remote-controlled mechanical arm that was designed and built in Canada and is used on a space shuttle or the International Space Station (ISS).

A flight engineer is a crew member who is responsible for the mechanical operation of an aircraft in flight.

The International Space Station (ISS) is a very large satellite that orbits around Earth and is home to astronauts as they conduct experiments and explore space; many countries worked together to build it and use it.

A laser physicist is a scientist who studies lasers and how to use them.

A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the nervous system.

Solar panels are mirrored devices that capture energy from the Sun’s rays and turn it into electricity.

A space shuttle is a winged spacecraft that is used in space, then used to control the speed and direction at which the spacecraft comes back to Earth and lands.

Marc Garneau

Marc Garneau was the first Canadian in space. He is the only Canadian to take three journeys into space. He made his first trip in 1984 onboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. He returned to space in 1996 and 2000 onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. On the last trip, he used the Canadarm to install solar panels in the International Space Station.

Marc Garneau

Roberta Bondar

The first Canadian woman in space was Roberta Bondar. Even as a child, she was interested in space travel. When she grew up, she became a neurologist—a doctor who specializes in the nervous system. In 1992, Bondar flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery. There, she performed experiments on the effects space travel has on the human body. She was head of NASA’s space medicine department. Roberta is now a consultant and skilled photographer.

Roberta Bondar

Chris Hadfield

Astronaut Chris Hadfield has many firsts in his career. For instance, he was the first Canadian to walk in space and to operate the Canadarm2 in space. Hadfield is also the first and only Canadian to board Russia’s space station Mir. Chris was a test pilot before becoming an astronaut. He says you have to be strong and fit to walk in space. He says performing tasks wearing a spacesuit is like working in a suit of armour. Chris has more trips to space planned. He would also like to be one of the astronauts to make the long journey to Mars.

Chris Hadfield

Julie Payette

Julie Payette has been to space twice. She flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station in 1999. In 2009, she was the flight engineer for the Space Shuttle Endeavour. This engineer is now Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency, as well as a talented singer and pianist.

Julie Payette

Other Astronauts

Canada’s other astronauts include Stephen MacLean, a laser physicist who headed to space in 1992 and 2006. In 2009, Robert Thirsk spent six months on the International Space Station. That made him the first Canadian to complete a long-term stay in space. As a crew member of the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2007, Dave Williams made three spacewalks—the most ever by a Canadian. Bjarni Tryggvason flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1997, performing experiments on the effects of spacecraft vibrations.

Robert Thirsk


Perhaps the most famous Canadian in space was the robotic Canadarm. It was a remote-controlled manipulator that was attached to a space shuttle. There, it could capture, repair, and launch satellites, position astronauts, help hold equipment and move cargo.

Canadarm was launched in 1981. The jointed arm could move objects weighing as much as 30 000 kg. Thanks to its multilayered insulation system, it could survive the harsh environment in space. In 2001, Canadarm2 was launched. At 17.6 m long when fully extended, it was slightly longer than the first Canadarm. Canadarm2 played an important role in the building of the International Space Station (ISS). Canadarm2 was retired in 2011.


To learn more about Canada in space, watch the video by CBC on Youtube.

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