Canadian Space Agency

Canadian Space Agency

December 01, 2009 02:53 ET

Canadian Astronaut Robert Thirsk Lands on Earth: Writing a New Chapter in Canadian Space Exploration History

LONGUEUIL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Dec. 1, 2009) - Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Astronaut Robert Thirsk landed on the plains of Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz Capsule at 2:17 a.m. EST after completing an exceptional 188-day mission in space, of which 186 days were spent living and working onboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Thirsk and his crewmates, Expedition 21 Commander European Space Agency Astronaut Frank De Winne and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko were rapidly assisted by local recovery teams upon their return to Earth. After recuperating from their flight and reacclimatizing to gravity, they were whisked away to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside of Moscow, to be reunited with their families.

"Today, we mark the return to Earth of a great Canadian," said the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency, "Modern day Canadian explorers like Robert Thirsk are critical to the evolution of our country. They push the boundaries of our knowledge and stretch the limits of what is possible for our nation, for our youth and for our future."

As a member of the first six-person crew onboard the ISS, Thirsk performed many vital science, technology, maintenance and education initiatives in support of the Canadian and international scientific communities. He was also part of the first 13-person assembly of humans in space, and welcomed his Canadian colleague Julie Payette to the station in July.

Canadian Space Agency President Steve MacLean, who was onsite at the landing, congratulated Thirsk on his successful mission.

"Robert has fulfilled critical scientific and technological objectives not only for the CSA, but for all Canadians. Due to his exceptional performance, Canada will continue to have a major stake in future international space endeavours. His conduct and contributions will further cement our reputation as a significant contributor to space exploration in the twenty-first century."

Taking into account his STS-178 shuttle flight in 1996 and this first long-duration Canadian space flight, Thirsk has spent a total of 206 days in space, surpassing the total number of days spent in space of all other Canadian astronauts combined.

For details on the mission, visit the Canadian Space Agency website at www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/missions/expedition20-21/

Video, animations and pictures are available at this address: ftp.asc-csa.gc.ca/users/expedition20-21/pub/

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