Canada in Space


The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is the Canadian government space agency responsible for Canada’s space program. In French it is called  l’Agence spatiale canadienne, ASC. It was established in March 1989 by the Canadian Space Agency Act and sanctioned in December 1990. The Chief Executive Officer of the agency is the President who reports to the Minister of Industry.

Canada FlagThe headquarters of the CSA is located at John H. Chapman Space Centre in Saint-Hubert, Quebec. The agency also has offices in Ottawa, Ontario at the David Florida Laboratory (which is mainly an engineering installation) and small liaison offices in Washington, D.C., Paris, France, Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Houston, Texas.

The agency is a relatively modest federal establishment, with only 575 employees and a rotating student population of about 100 interns or summer workers. Most of the staff is at the Chapman Centre.

Pioneering Canadians of Space:

  • Marc Garneau: First Canadian in Space.

Marc Garneau was the first Canadian in space. He has taken part in three flights aboard NASA Space Shuttles: (1). Challenger STS-41-G October 5, 1984 (2). Endeavour STS-77 May 19, 1996 (3). STS-97 November 30, 2000 ISS mission. He was the president of the Canadian Space Agency until he entered politics as the Liberal candidate in Vaudreuil-Soulanges for the 2006 federal election. He was born born February 23, 1949.

  • Roberta Bondar: First Canadian Woman in Space (Discovery STS-42 January 22, 1992)

Roberta Lynn Bondar was Canada’s first woman astronaut and the world’s first neurologist in space. She born December 4, 1945, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

  • Steven MacLeanSecond Canadian to Walk in Space

In 1985, Steve MacLean was designated to fly with a set of Canadian experiments in space science, space technology and life sciences called CANEX-2. The primary experiment was an evaluation of the National Research Council’s experimental Space Vision System. CANEX-2 was scheduled for a mission in 1987 but was rescheduled following the Challenger tragedy. Steve MacLean and the CANEX-2 payload flew October 22 – November 1, 1992 during Mission STS-52, aboard Space Shuttle Columbia.MacLean served as a Mission Specialist on STS-115, which launched on September 9, 2006 and returned on September 21, 2006. He became the first Canadian to operate the robotic arm Canadarm2. On September 13, he performed his first spacewalk, a 7 hour EVA to activate the solar panels on the P3/4 truss – the second Canadian to do so, after Chris Hadfield.

  • Chris HadfieldFirst Canadian to Walk in Space and only Canadian to visit Mir

Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian Mission Specialist and the first and only Canadian to board the Russian Space Station Mir during Mission STS-74, aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, November 12-20, 1995. Hadfield was also the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm when he successfully manoeuvred the arm to install docking modules.In April 2001, aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, Chris Hadfield made history by becoming the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space during Mission STS-100, the ISS assembly Flight 6A. The primary purpose of the flight was to deliver, install and deploy the remote robotic arm, Canadarm2, as well as, install and retrieve the Italian-made, Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, on the ISS.  During the 11-day flight, Hadfield performed two spacewalks, which made him the first Canadian to ever leave a spacecraft and float freely in space. In total, Hadfield spent 14 hours, 54 minutes outside, travelling 10 times around the world.

Other notable missions:

Marc Garneau: Endeavour STS-77 May 19, 1996. First Canadian to Return to Space.
Robert Thirsk
: flew as a payload specialist aboard space shuttle Columbia mission STS-78 June 20, 1996, the Life and Microgravity Spacelab (LMS) mission.
Bjarni Tryggvason: Discovery STS-85 August 7, 1997. Payload Specialist.
Dafydd Williams: Columbia STS-90 April 17, 1998.
Julie Payette: Discovery STS-96 May 27, 1999. First Canadian to visit the International Space Station (ISS).
Dafydd Williams: Endeavour STS-118 August 27, 2007. Third spacewalk by a Canadian.
Guy Laliberté: First Canadian space tourist. Flew on a Russian Soyuz TMA-16 September 30, 2009. Visited the ISS and returned aboard Soyuz TMA-14.
Robert Thirsk: Soyuz-FG Rocket / Soyuz TMA-15 May 27, 2009. First flight on a Russian Rocket by a Canadian. First Canadian on a permanent International Space Station crew. First time two Canadians were in space simultaneously – with Julie Payette.
Julie Payette: Endeavour STS-127 July 15, 2009. First Canadian woman to return to space. Last Canadian to fly on a US Space Shuttle.
Chris Hadfield: Soyuz-FG Rocket / Soyuz TMA-07M December 19, 2012. Third space visit. First Canadian Commander of a Spacecraft. First Canadian Commander of a permanent International Space Station crew.

Canadian Satellites (Launch – End Mission)

Alouette 1: September 29, 1962 – 1972. Canada’s first satellite.  Explore the ionosphere.
Alouette 2: November 29, 1965 –  August 1, 1975. Explore the ionosphere.
ISIS-I: January 30, 1969 – 1990. Explore the ionosphere.
ISIS-II: April 1, 1971 – 1990. Explore the ionosphere.
Hermes: January 17, 1976 November, 1979 Experimental communications satellite
RADARSAT-1: November 4, 1995 – 29 March 2013. Canada’s first Commercial Earth observation satellite.
MOST: June 30, 2003 Still in use Space telescope.
SCISAT-1: August 12, 2003 Still in use Observe the Earth’s atmosphere
RADARSAT-2: December 14, 2007 Still in use Commercial Earth observation satellite
CASSIOPE (CAScade, Smallsat and IOnospheric Polar Explorer): September 29, 2013 on the first flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1. Observing Space Weather.

Additionally, there are some commercial satellites launched by the telecommunications company Telesat Canada. These are the 13 Anik satellites (3 of which are still in use), the 3 Nimiq satellites (all currently used by Bell ExpressVu), and a satellite called M-Sat 1 launched April 20, 1996, at 22h36 UTC


Canada became the third country to put a man-made satellite into space with the launch of Alouette 1 in 1962 . The mission was a big success; although it was only expected to last for one year, it lasted for ten. This prompted further study of the ionosphere with the international ISIS program, which in 1993 was designated an International Milestone of Electrical Engineering by IEEE. It should be noted, however, that Canada has never had any domestic launch capabilities of its own. While Alouette 1 was entirely built and funded by Canada, it was launched by the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from Vandenberg AFB in California.

Another Canadian first was the launch of Anik A-1 in 1972, making Canada the first country in the world to have its own domestic geostationary communication satellite network.

The CSA has several formal and informal partnerships and collaborative programs or agreements with space agencies in other countries, such as NASA, ESA and JAXA, and perhaps soon the CNSA.

Since January 1, 1979 Canada has had the special status of a cooperating state with the ESA, paying for the privilege and also investing in working time and providing scientific instruments which are placed on European probes. On June 21, 2000 the accord was renewed for a fourth period, this time for 10 years. By virtue of this accord Canada takes part in ESA deliberative bodies and decision-making and in ESA’s programmes and activities. Canadian firms can bid for and receive contracts to work on programmes. The accord has a provision specifically ensuring a fair industrial return to Canada.

Canadian Space Program

The Canadian Space Program is also administered by the Canadian Space Agency. Canada has contributed technology, expertise and personnel to the world space effort, especially in collaboration with NASA and the ESA.

In addition to its astronauts, some of the most notable Canadian technological contributions to space exploration are the Canadarm on the Space Shuttle as well as the Canadarm2 and the rest of the Mobile Servicing System on the International Space Station. The Canadarm and Canadarm2 are assisted by the Advanced Space Vision System which allows more efficient use of the robotic arms. Another example is the Orbiter Boom Sensor System, which is an extension of the Canadarm used to inspect the Space Shuttle’s thermal Protection System for damage while in orbit.

Did you know?

What is Canada and where is Canada?

Canada is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world’s second largest country by total area and shares land borders with the United States to the south and northwest.

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