How many Canadian astronauts are there?
Since the Canadian Astronaut Program was established in 1983, twelve Canadians have been selected to become astronauts. Currently there are four active Canadian Astronauts. They are: Ms. Julie Payette, Col. Chris Hadfield, Major Jeremy Hansen and Dr. David Saint-Jacques.
Dr. Roberta Bondar and Dr. Ken Money returned to their research activities in the summer of 1992, and Capt. Mike McKay resigned in 1995. In February 2001, Dr. Marc Garneau was appointed Executive Vice President of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and became the president of the CSA on November 22, 2001. He resigned from this position on November 28, 2005, to run for office in the federal election. Mr. Bjarni Tryggvason currently holds the position of visiting professor at the University of Western Ontario while Dr. Dave Williams retired from active astronaut status as of March 1, 2008 and Dr. Robert Thirsk on June 21, 2012. Dr. Steve MacLean was appointed President of the CSA on September 1, 2008.
Who was the first Canadian to fly into space?
STS-97 Mission Specialist Marc Garneau arrives at the Shuttle Landing Facility aboard a T-38 jet aircraft. (Credit: NASA)
Dr. Marc Garneau became the first Canadian in space when he participated in mission STS-41G in October 1984. He participated in mission STS-77 in May 1996, and in November 2000 he flew to the International Space Station (ISS) for mission STS-97. In February 2001, Dr. Garneau was appointed Executive Vice President of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and became the president of the CSA on November 22, 2001. He resigned from this position on November 28, 2005, to run for office in the federal election.
How can I contact an astronaut?
Unfortunately, because of the volume of e-mails they would receive if their addresses were public, astronauts' e-mails are confidential. However, you can send an email or write to:
Canadian Astronaut Office
ATT. [Astronaut's name]
Canadian Space Agency
6767 route de l'Aéroport
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts that are still active include: Chris Hadfield, Jeremy Hansen, Julie Payette, David Saint-Jacques and Robert Thirsk.
How can I get an astronaut as a guest speaker for my special event, organization, etc.?
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Astronaut Dave Williams hosts a videoconference for a group of students with the NEEMO 7 crew, who are underwater off the coast of Florida.
If you are interested in inviting a Canadian astronaut to a public event, please see Inviting a Canadian Astronaut to a Public Event.
Where is the Canadian Astronaut Office and do the astronauts have to live close by?
The Canadian Astronaut Office is located at the Canadian Space Agency's Headquarters in Saint-Hubert Quebec, near Montreal. For contact information see Contact Us.
Canadian astronauts live wherever they are assigned to work. Although this can include the Saint-Hubert area, astronauts may be assigned to work anywhere in the world, particularly in Russia and the United States.
What are g's?
The things called g's are just a way to quantify force. The standard pull of gravity is called 1 g. It is defined as positive g, since it pulls down towards your feet. If you stand on your head, you are experiencing 1 negative g, and all the blood rushes to your head.
If you sit in an airplane and the pilot pulls back on the stick, you will feel the acceleration as if gravity got stronger. Depending on how hard the pilot pulls, you might experience 2 g, 3 g, or even up to 9 g (in an F-16!). At 9 g, your 6-kilogram head would feel like it weighed 54 kilograms – hard to look around! But your blood would get heavier too, and rush towards your legs and feet. Your heart would work hard to keep blood in your head, but at high g, unless you strain very hard and wear a G-suit, the blood would drain from your head, and you'd faint, or "black out."
As a reference, anything more than about 4 or 5 positive g will black people out, unless they are trained to fight it.
Negative g will never cause a black out, because it pushes blood into your head. You could cause high negative g by pushing on the stick. Most fighter airplanes are only built to take about 3 negative g.
During a shuttle launch, the acceleration isn't up or down. It's more like a dragster, accelerating forwards, and astronauts feel like they're being pushed back into their chair. The force is about 3 g, but since it's front-to-back, no one blacks out.
Finally, during shuttle landing, astronauts feel g up and down since it comes home like an airplane. The max g they pull is during the turns to line up with the runway, but the most they ever see is about 2 or 2.5 g. But after just a week of weightlessness in space, even that feels heavy, and they wear g suits to help squeeze their legs and abdomens to keep the blood in their heads.
Can astronauts feel the variation in temperatures as they pass through the different atmospheric layers?
The STS-85 flight crew greets a crowd of well-wishers as they walk out to Launch Pad 39A, where they will take their places aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. They are wearing launch and entry suits. (Credit: NASA)
On Earth, humans are attached to the Earth by gravity, at the bottom of a sea of air that we call the atmosphere. This atmospheric 'shell' is very thin (about 2% of the Earth's radius) and is considered to be composed of many layers (Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere and Exosphere). These layers are determined primarily by the changes in the atmospheric temperature. The warmest area of the atmosphere is near the surface of the Earth (at the bottom of the Troposphere) where we can feel the daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations. The coldest area of the atmosphere is in the Mesosphere at around an altitude of 80-90 km, where the temperature drops to about -80°C. Very, very cold.
So do astronauts feel these temperature variations as they travel through the atmospheric layers on launch day? Fortunately not. Certainly the exterior surface of the shuttle is exposed to these atmospheric temperatures, but the Flight Deck and Mid Deck of the shuttle (where the astronauts live and work) has what is called an environmental control system that regulates the interior of the shuttle to a comfortable temperature. In addition, the astronauts wear a heavy pressure suit (the big orange suits) during the launch and re-entry. These suits provide protection to the astronauts in case there is a loss of pressure in the shuttle. However, these suits are very big and hot, and as a result, they have their own environmental control system to regulate the temperature. Even when an astronaut is performing a space walk in the EVA suit, his or her EVA suit will also have an environmental control system to help regulate temperature to an acceptable level. So during a space mission, the astronaut is protected against the temperature extremes of the atmosphere and does not feel the variations in temperature in the atmospheric layers.
How can I see a launch?
Launch of Space Shuttle Discovery for the 11-day Mission STS-85, on August 7, 1997, with Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason aboard. The Space Shuttle Program ended in July 2011. (Credit: NASA)
July 8, 2011 marked the final launch of the Space Shuttle Program. However, there are other non-manned launches that take place at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Please refer to the KSC website for more information about how to watch a launch from an official launch-viewing area.
What is the longest time anyone has ever spent in space?
Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev holds the record for the longest accumulated stay in space, clocking 803 days and 9 hours and 39 minutes. Another Russian cosmonaut, Dr. Valeri Polyakov, holds the record for the longest continuous stay in space. Dr. Polyakov stayed in space for 437 days, 17 hours and 38 minutes (14 months) on Mir, from January 1994 to March 1995.
Do female astronauts get their period in space?
Yes, female astronauts get their period in space just like they do on Earth, and no menstrual problems have been associated with living in microgravity. In the early years of human spaceflight, some worried that women would not have their periods safely in microgravity. They thought that microgravity might cause menstrual fluid to travel upwards into the body instead of out of it – also called retrograde menstrual flow. This would mean that blood would flow from the uterine cavity into the fallopian tubes and then into the pelvis and abdomen, causing pain and increasing the risk for endometriosis. While this has not been observed in past space missions, more studies are needed to better understand how the body works and reacts to microgravity. For a variety of reasons however, many female astronauts prefer to take low-dose oral contraceptives in a continuous fashion to reduce or stop menses during a long-duration mission; therefore, accumulating information on spontaneous menstrual cycles in space is expected to require several years.