Canadian Space Agency

Canadian Space Agency

July 19, 2009 20:11 ET

Historic Conversation Between Science and Technology Minister Gary Goodyear and Two Canadian Astronauts Aboard the Space Station

LONGUEUIL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - July 19, 2009) - Today, the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology), on behalf of the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), spoke with Canadian Astronauts Julie Payette and Robert Thirsk during a live televised downlink event with the International Space Station (ISS) as it orbited 400 km above Earth. Member of Parliament for Levis-Bellechasse, Steven Blaney also participated in the downlink.

"Twenty-five years after the first Canadian flew into space, Canada continues to be a leader in space exploration," said Minister Goodyear. "Having two Canadian astronauts in space at the same time is truly a Canadian space milestone."

Steve MacLean, President of the CSA and former astronaut, started the event by greeting the two Canadian astronauts. Then Minister Goodyear asked Robert and Julie questions about their work aboard the ISS.

"The best thing about being an astronaut aboard the space station is working with my crewmates. My five crewmates representing the other four agencies involved in the space station program are incredibly motivated, enthusiastic people," responded Robert Thirsk, who launched to the Station on May 27, 2009 aboard a Soyuz rocket, in response to a question on living on the space station with an international crew. "I am also proud of being a Canadian. Canada ranks with the leaders in world exploration and world innovation. It makes me very proud," he added, about meeting a fellow Canadian in space.

Talking about the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Julie Payette said, "That event was very significant for me because I grew up with the Apollo missions, and they are what motivated me to become an astronaut when I was young." While floating in the ISS, she added that "Children like me, growing up in Canada, had the impression that with perseverance, they could - I could - accomplish the same."

Thirsk is a member of Expedition 20/21, the first permanent six-person crew, and will stay on the space station for six months to maintain and repair the ISS, while conducting experiments on behalf of Canadian and international researchers.

Payette is taking part in STS-127, a 16-day mission launched on July 15, 2009. Along with her fellow crewmates, she will install a platform onto the Japanese Laboratory Kibo, swap batteries, load other cargo, and perform five spacewalks. Payette will be at the controls of Canadarm, Canadarm2 and the Japanese robotic arm, supporting this intensely robotic assembly mission.

For details on both missions, visit the Canadian Space Agency website at

Mission-related videos, animations and pictures are available at these addresses: and

About the Canadian Space Agency

Established in 1989, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) coordinates all civil, space-related policies and programs on behalf of the Government of Canada. CSA directs its resources and activities through four key thrusts: Earth Observation, Space Science and Exploration, Satellite Communications, and Space Awareness and Learning. By leveraging international cooperation, the CSA generates world-class scientific research and industrial development for the benefit of humanity.

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