Cana­dian as­tro­naut set to blast off into space Mon­day

The Peterborough Examiner - - Canada & World -

MONTREAL — Cana­dian as­tro­naut David Saint-Jacques won’t be car­ry­ing much with him when he leaves Earth to blast off to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion on Mon­day.

If all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, he will take off at 6:31 a.m. (East­ern Time) from the steppes of Kaza­khstan on the first manned Rus­sian rocket launch since a dra­matic aborted Soyuz fail­ure in Oc­to­ber.

What does one take to space? A small shoe­box con­tain­ing items such as wed­ding rings and a watch.

“I brought a few per­sonal items that re­mind me of my fam­ily, of my chil­dren, of my par­ents, my wife and the peo­ple I love on the planet, so they’re mainly me­men­toes,” he said re­cently, adding that his lug­gage has al­ready been sent ahead.

There will also be a few Christ­mas presents, which he’ll un­wrap as his fam­ily watches him back on Earth, his wife Veronique Morin said last week.

The 48-year-old doc­tor and as­tro­naut has spent years train­ing for the six-month mis­sion, which was orig­i­nally sched­uled for Dec. 20 but was moved up af­ter the aborted Soyuz launch.

Aboard the sta­tion, his role will in­clude con­duct­ing a num­ber of sci­ence ex­per­i­ments, some of which will fo­cus on the phys­i­cal ef­fects of the weak grav­ity as­tro­nauts ex­pe­ri­ence in or­bit, as well as how to pro­vide re­mote med­i­cal care.

And while he’s likely to keep in touch, he says Cana­di­ans shouldn’t ex­pect a re­peat of the out-of-this-world gui­tar per­for­mances that brought his pre­de­ces­sor Chris Had­field in­ter­na­tional fame dur­ing his own stint on the space sta­tion in 2013.

“I don’t think I’m go­ing to try to top what Chris did in terms of en­ter­tain­ment — that is his forte,” Saint-Jacques said on

Nov. 29. “We each go there with our own per­son­al­i­ties and our own am­bi­tions.”

Peo­ple all over the world are ex­pected to watch Mon­day’s launch with extra at­ten­tion, given the fate of the pre­vi­ous mis­sion. On Oct. 11, a rocket fail­ure forced a Soyuz cap­sule car­ry­ing two as­tro­nauts to abort and make an emer­gency land­ing.

The crowd on the ground in Kaza­khstan will in­clude mem­bers of Saint-Jacques’ fam­ily as well as Gov­er­nor Gen­eral Julie Payette, her­self a for­mer as­tro­naut.

Both Payette and Saint Jacques em­pha­size the strength and im­por­tance of Canada’s space con­tri­bu­tions.

“To me, it’s the kind of in­no­va­tive, creative, bold Canada that I would like my chil­dren to live in — Canada is there to stay in space,” Saint-Jacques said.

DMITRI LOVETSKY THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

As­tro­naut David Saint-Jacques blows a kiss through safety glass dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Sun­day in Kaza­khstan.

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