WARMINGTON: 11 Canadians have now been to space but not all were astronauts

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There are only 10 other Canadians who can say they have been where William Shatner can know boast blasting off to.

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As the world’s oldest person to ever travel to space the 90-year-old got less press for being the 11th Canadian who got to go where few men or women have gone before.

When you look at the list of the previous 10, it puts the guy famous for being Capt. Kirk in rarified air and in a very exclusive club. In a form of a trivia question here today, can you name the previous Canadians who have travelled into outer space? It’s a bit of a trick question.

First are the nine astronauts with the Canadian Space Agency who did Canada so proud. Marc Garneau was the first Canuck to go up and Roberta Bondar was the first woman. They were followed by other great astronauts including Chris Hadfield who flew to space three times and Julie Payette who travelled up there twice. Others from the CSA are Robert Thirsk, Steve MacLean, Dave Williams, Bjarni Tryggvason and David Saint-Jacques.

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But there is another another Canadian who can make the claim too. His name is Guy Laliberté, a co-founder of Cirque du Soleil who was on board the International Space Station as a passenger after paying $35 million to board the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2009 to become Canada’s first space tourist.

  1. William Shatner speaks at the William Shatner Spotlight panel during Day 1 of New York Comic Con 2021 at Jacob Javits Center on October 07, 2021 in New York.

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  2. Star Trek actor William Shatner speaks as Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen looks on during a media availability on the landing pad of Blue Origin’s New Shepard after they flew into space on October 13, 2021 near Van Horn, Texas.

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  3. The New Shepard rocket launches on October 13, 2021, from the West Texas region, 25 miles (40kms) north of Van Horn.

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So there’s your 11 Canadians who can boast being up amongst the stars. Who is going to be the 12th?

As I was watching Shatner on board Jeff Bezos’s Amazon Blue Origin and thinking about that, I realized I didn’t even know if there is another Canadian ready to go up or if we even have astronauts in training anymore?

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Turns out we do.

Thanks to Alyssa Roussy, of the Canadian Space Agency, we have learned there are four Canadian astronauts training for three future missions they would all love to be part of. Time will tell. But the magnificent four are Jeremy Hansen, a fighter pilot from London, Ont.; Joshua Kutryk, a test and fighter pilot and engineer from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.; Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons, a Mechanical engineer and combustion scientist from Calgary, Alta.; and David Saint-Jacques, who in 2018 and 2019 “flew to the International Space Station for a 204-day mission” where he “circled the globe 3,264 times.”

Saint-Jacques would like to go back again and the other three are working hard to join that exclusive space club. Hopefully they all get to go.

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Roussy tells me in the years ahead a “CSA astronaut is planned to fly on a long-duration mission to the ISS by the end of 2024” while another one “will be part of Artemis II, the first crewed mission as part of the Artemis program, planned to launch in 2023 to fly around the Moon.” And after that, one could be “part of another Artemis mission to live and work on the Lunar Gateway.”

So there’s some cool stuff ahead. For now there’s no recruitment underway for new Canadian astronauts into the CSA. But with all of these new, private space programs, who knows who will be able to get themselves in a spacecraft for an adventure.

Capt. James T. Kirk has now been there for real along with the amazing circus performer turned businessman, who was nicknamed the Space Clown. Anything is possible.

In the years ahead there will be more Canadians like Shatner going up to where few have boldly gone.

Maybe it’s you?

jwarmington@postmedia.com

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