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Meet Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques


Uploaded on May 13, 2014

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Meet Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques

2014-05-13 - As a kid, David Saint-Jacques travelled the world with his family, fostering his spirit of exploration, openness, curiosity and caring for others. An engineer and astrophysicist, David later became a family physician and practiced medicine in the Canadian Arctic.

On May 13, 2009, he was recruited by the Canadian Space Agency as one of two new astronauts after a year-long selection process. Get to know David better in this video profile produced on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of his recruitment. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)


David Saint-Jacques: 

My name is David Saint-Jacques. I’m an astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency. I was born in Quebec City, and I grew up in Montreal. I have two brothers. Dad was a professor of physics and Mom was a history and literature teacher and big travellers. So I spent a lot of my youth travelling with my parents and constantly being challenged by my parents to read and learn more about everything. When I was a young child, I saw one of those photos of the Earth seen from the Moon, and it really struck me as an example of adventure in the 20th century, you know, encouraging me to stay fit, learn languages, travel, study and just grab every opportunity I could to make myself better. I started out studying engineering, like my father and my grandfather before me, and I worked a couple of years as an engineer. And I moved on, and I became an astronomer. And I went to graduate school, did a PhD. And I worked as an astrophysicist for several years and had the change to work with teams from all around the world, all in pursuit of this beautiful study of the heavens above us. And then I moved on again, and I became a doctor, a family doctor, and I practised up North in Nunavik in northern Quebec, and that was a great human experience for me, a nice way to kind of mix a sense of adventure and discovery while doing something really worthwhile, practically, being a physician and helping people stay healthy.

I heard from a colleague that they were recruiting astronauts, and for me, it’s as if the world stopped for a second. I could hear the voice of a little boy at the back of my head going, "Oh, come on David, you’ve got to try, at least try!" these old souvenirs came back to me, and I thought, okay, yeah, I’ve got to make an effort to apply for this process and just give it a chance. One of the main challenges in the selection process I found was that it was so long, so drawn out — a whole year of tests. It was really a challenge in and of itself to stay focussed on it. And we’re basically tested on anything you can test someone on — first, medical testing, of course, flying potential, reaction to stress, teamwork, public speaking — all these varied skills that you kind of need to have to be a good astronaut.

One of the guiding principles of my life has always been to broaden my horizons, to expand my understanding and to maybe be able to then turn around and teach what I understand to the younger people. And I think as an astronaut I have this chance to broaden my horizons to the whole planet, and that’s really I’m looking forward to have that consciousness practically in my soul of what the world looks like seen from outside. And I think that will help me better understand who we are as humans and the way we should lead our lives.

David Saint-Jacques: Okay, so I’ve stowed the new DDCU to the CETA cart.

Male Speaker: Copy.

David Saint-Jacques: So that is secured by an adjustable on the zenith handrail of the CETA cart.


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