Canadian Space Agency

Canadian Space Agency

July 15, 2009 19:11 ET

Successful Launch: Canadian Astronaut Julie Payette En Route to the International Space Station

LONGUEUIL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - July 15, 2009) - Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Julie Payette is finally on her way to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, following a picture perfect launch from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida this evening at 6:03 p.m. EDT.

Canada is proud to play a key role in this important and complex assembly mission during which Julie Payette will have the responsibility of operating the Shuttle Canadarm, the Station's Canadarm2, and the Japanese robotic arm.

Astronaut Payette will be joining Astronaut Robert Thirsk, already aboard the Station since May. It will be the first time in our nation's history that two Canadian astronauts work side-by-side in space.

"This mission marks a key moment in Canada's space history and further demonstrates this government's commitment to science and technology," said the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency. "Canadian astronauts and our advanced technology are playing an absolutely critical role in the mission and in the assembly of the Space Station."

"This is a historic mission for all the international partners, because all five space agencies - Canada, the United States, Russia, Japan and Europe - are represented on the Space Station," said CSA President Steve MacLean from the Kennedy Space Centre, as he watched Endeavour disappear into the sky. "When the shuttle docks, a record 13 astronauts will be on board the orbiting laboratory, including two Canadians. I am very proud of the work that our astronauts are doing."

All three of the robotic arms will be put to use during this mission, sometimes all on the same day. The Shuttle's Canadarm and the station's Canadarm2 will be put through their regular paces for surveys, unloading cargo and moving equipment and spacewalkers around, and the new Japanese robotic arm will be making its debut to transfer science experiments.

Mission STS-127 is scheduled to be 16 days long. This is only the second time that astronauts have gone into a mission planning to stay in space for that long, and the second time that five spacewalks have been planned for a Station mission.

The mission's main event will be the installation of an external platform on the Japanese laboratory Kibo along with scientific experiments that will be exposed to the extreme environment of space.

This will be Payette's second space flight and second visit to the Space Station. Ten years ago, during the earliest stages of its assembly, she was the first Canadian to step inside the Station. Now, the Station is nearly complete. The Station has increased its living space by 45 percent in the past two years, and the number of astronauts working and living on board will have doubled by the time Space Shuttle Endeavour arrives.

For the latest information about Mission STS-127, visit the CSA website at www.asc-csa.gc.ca.

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