The U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis departs this summer on its final flight the final mission for the shuttle program. As part of The Globe and Mail's coverage of the end of an era, four Canadian astronauts shared their experiences of travelling into outer space.
Like many astronauts before him, Marc Garneau was drawn from the ranks of the military. The native of Quebec City became the first Canadian to venture into space in October 1984. He flew on two later shuttle missions. Mr. Garneau became president of the Canadian Space Agency in 2001. He resigned in 2006 to run for political office and now sits as a Liberal MP for Westmount-Ville-Marie.
A physician and scientist, Roberta Bondar became Canada's first woman to fly in space in January 1992. She says she felt a lot of weight on her shoulders to "do this right" because people would look at her actions and "generalize it to all of womankind." After her stint in space, Ms. Bondar, who was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., produced four books featuring her photography of the earth.
In April 2001, Chris Hadfield, a former military fighter pilot, became the first Canadian to walk in space. He calls it an "almost magical experience." The native of Sarnia, Ont., says it's challenging trying to work while the big, beautiful Earth spins below. "It's extremely distracting." In two years, Mr. Hadfield is scheduled to be the first Canadian to command the International Space Station.
Julie Payette, born in Montreal, flew on two shuttle missions. Her second flight, on Endeavour from July 15 to 31, 2009, marked the last time a Canadian astronaut would ride on a shuttle. She believes the shuttle's legacy will be "fundamentally tied" to the construction of the International Space Station a rare example of many countries working together "to advance knowledge for all human beings."