Biography of Julie Payette

Julie Payette

Julie Payette prior to the launch of mission STS-127

Personal Profile: Born , in Montreal, Quebec, Ms. Payette enjoys running, skiing, racquet sports and scuba diving. She has a commercial pilot licence with float rating. Ms. Payette is fluent in French and English, and can converse in Spanish, Italian, Russian and German. She plays the piano and has sung with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Piacere Vocale ensemble in Basel, Switzerland, and the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir in Toronto, Ontario.

Education: Attended primary and secondary school in Montreal. International Baccalaureate (1982) from the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales, UK. Bachelor of Engineering, Electrical (1986) cum laude from McGill University. Master of Applied Science - Computer Engineering (1990) from the University of Toronto. Certificate in Corporate Governance and an Administratrice de sociétés certifiée (ASC) designation (2013) from Université Laval. Certificate in Cybersecurity (2017) from York University.

Organizations: Member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec and the International Academy of Astronautics. Member of the Board of Canada's "Own The Podium" Olympic High Performance Program, Canadian Olympic Committee, Robotique FIRST Québec, Montreal Science Centre Foundation, McGill Engineering Faculty, Art and Health Advisory Committee of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal Bach Festival and Drug Free Kids Canada. Director of the National Bank of Canada and of Développement Aéroport Saint-Hubert de Longueuil. Former Governor-in-Council for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and former member of the board of Queen's University, Collège des administrateurs de sociétés de l’Université Laval, and Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific. Member of Les amies d'affaires.

Special Honours: Received one of six Canadian scholarships to attend the Atlantic College in Wales (1980). Greville Smith Scholarship (1982-1986), highest undergraduate award at McGill University. McGill University Faculty Scholar (1983-1986). NSERC post-graduate Scholarship (1988-1990). Massey College Fellowship (1988-1990). Distinction for exceptional achievement by a young engineer (1994) from the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers. NASA Space Flight Medal (1999 and 2009). Knight of the Ordre de la Pléiade de la Francophonie (2001). Knight of the Ordre national du Québec (2002). University of Ottawa Distinguished Canadian Leadership Award (2009). Carried the Olympic flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. Engineers Canada Gold Medal (2010), highest recognition of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers. Inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame (2010). NASA Exceptional Service Medal (2010). Officer of the Order of Canada (2010). Julie Payette Public School in Whitby, Ontario (opened in 2011). Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). Grands Montréalais, Ordre de Montréal (2013). Knight of the Tastevin (Clos de Vougeot) (2015). Because Mothers Matter Awards – Rideau Hall (2016). Commander of the Ordre de Montréal (2016).

Honorary Degrees: Queen's University (1999); University of Ottawa (1999); Simon Fraser University (2000); Université Laval (2000); University of Regina (2001); Royal Roads University (2001); University of Toronto (2001); University of Victoria (2002); Nipissing University (2002); McGill University (2003); Mount Saint Vincent University (2004); McMaster University (2004); University of Lethbridge (2005); Mount Allison University (2005); University of Alberta (2006); York University (2010); University of Waterloo (2010); Concordia University (2010); University of British Columbia (2010); Niagara University, USA (2011); Ryerson University (2011); Vancouver Island University (2012); Carleton University (2012); University of Moncton (2013); University of Manitoba (2013); University of Calgary (2013); British Columbia Institute of Technology (2015).

Experience: Before joining the space program, Ms. Payette conducted research in computer systems, natural language processing and automatic speech recognition. She worked as a system engineer with IBM Canada (1986-1988); research assistant at the University of Toronto (1988-1990); visiting scientist at the IBM Research Laboratory, in Zurich, Switzerland (1991); and research engineer with BNR/Northern in Montreal (1992).

In June 1992, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) selected Ms. Payette from 5330 applicants to become one of four astronauts. After her basic training in Canada, she worked as a technical advisor for the Mobile Servicing System, an advanced robotics system contributed by Canada to the International Space Station (ISS).

In preparation for a space mission assignment, Ms. Payette obtained her commercial pilot licence, studied Russian and logged 120 hours as a research operator on board reduced gravity aircraft. In April 1996, Ms. Payette was certified as a one-atmosphere, deep-sea diving suit operator. Ms. Payette obtained her military pilot captaincy on the Tutor CT-114 "Snowbird" jet at Canadian Forces Base Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in February 1996. She obtained her military instrument rating in 1997. She has logged more than 1300 hours of flight time. Ms. Payette was Chief Astronaut for the CSA from 2000 to 2007.

NASA Experience: Ms. Payette reported to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in August 1996. She completed basic astronaut training in April 1998 and was assigned to work on technical issues in robotics for the Astronaut Office. A veteran of two space flights, STS-96 (1999) and STS-127 (2009), she logged over 611 hours in space.

From to , Ms. Payette was assigned to represent the Astronaut Corps at the European and Russian space agencies where she supervised procedure development, equipment verification and space hardware processing for the International Space Station Program.

Starting in , Ms. Payette worked as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) at Mission Control Center in Houston and was Lead CAPCOM for Space Shuttle Mission STS-121 (2006). The CAPCOM is responsible for all communications between ground controllers and the astronauts in flight.

Space Flight Experience: Julie Payette flew on Space Shuttle Discovery from to , as a crewmember of STS-96. During the mission, the crew performed the first manual docking of the Shuttle to the International Space Station, and delivered four tons of supplies to the Station. Ms. Payette served as a mission specialist, was responsible for the Station’s systems, supervised the spacewalk and operated the Canadarm robotic arm. The STS-96 mission was accomplished in 153 orbits of the Earth, travelling more than six million kilometres in 9 days, 19 hours and 13 minutes. Ms. Payette was the first Canadian to participate in an ISS assembly mission and to board the Space Station.

From to , Julie Payette served as the flight engineer on the crew of STS-127 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on the 29th Shuttle mission to the International Space Station. During this mission, also known as ISS Assembly Mission 2J/A, the crew completed the construction of the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module, installed scientific experiments on its Exposed Facility and delivered critical spare parts and replacement batteries to the orbital complex. Robotics technology was used almost every day on this assembly mission and Ms. Payette operated all three robotic arms – the Shuttle's Canadarm, the Space Station's Canadarm2, and a special-purpose Japanese arm on Kibo. A record 13 astronauts of 5 different nationalities were together on board while the Shuttle was docked to the ISS. It was also the first time two Canadians were in space at the same time (Robert Thirsk). The 16-day mission included five spacewalks, travelling 10.5 million kilometres in 248 orbits around the Earth.

In , Julie Payette undertook a fellowship as a Public Policy Scholar at the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. In October 2011, Ms. Payette became the scientific authority for Quebec in Washington on behalf of Quebec's Department of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade. During her assignment, Ms. Payette remained a member of the Canadian Astronaut Corps. In July 2013, Ms. Payette retired from the CSA to become Chief Operating Officer of the Montreal Science Centre as well as Vice President of the Canada Lands Company, positions she held until 2016. On July 13, 2017, it was officially announced the Ms. Payette would become Canada’s 29th Governor General. Her installation took place on October 2, 2017.

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