50th Anniversary of Canada in Space
September 29, 1962
Alouette-1 is launched. Canada becomes the third country to design and build its own satellite. Alouette-1 studies the ionosphere and inaugurates the partnership between Canada and NASA.
July 20, 1969
American astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to set foot on the Moon. The lunar module's landing gear had been built by a Canadian company.
November 9, 1972
Anik A1 is launched. Canada becomes the first nation with a domestic communications satellite. This launch marks the beginning of an important series of communication satellites that connect communities.
January 17, 1976
Launch of the Satellite Hermes, the first satellite to be integrated and tested in Canada at the David-Florida Laboratory. Over four years of joint operations with the United States, Hermes explores new ways of using satellite technologies, notably for direct broadcasts.
January 1, 1979
Canada becomes the only non-European cooperating member state of the European Space Agency (ESA). This provides a unique opportunity for Canadian scientists and industries to participate in ESA–led space missions.
November 13, 1981
Launched aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, the Canadarm makes its space debut. NASA awarded Canada the responsibility of designing, developing, and building the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System in 1974.
October 5 - 13, 1984
Marc Garneau becomes the first Canadian astronaut in space, aboard Space Shuttle Challenger.
September 29, 1988
Canada becomes a full partner of the International Space Station program.
March 1, 1989
Creation of the Canadian Space Agency.
April 25, 1990
Canadarm deploys the Hubble Space Telescope (NASA), removing it from the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Five Canadian universities gain access to the space telescope for their research.
September 12, 1991
Canada's Wind Imaging Interferometer (WINDII) is among the instruments aboard the UARS satellite (NASA). WINDII is developed to improve our knowledge of wind circulation in the upper atmosphere.
Jan. 22 - 30, 1992
Roberta Bondar becomes the first Canadian woman astronaut in space, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Oct. 22 - Nov. 1, 1992
First space mission for Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean, aboard Space Shuttle Columbia.
November 4, 1995
Canada's first Earth Observation satellite RADARSAT-1 is launched to monitor environmental changes and the planet's natural resources.
Nov. 12 - 20, 1995
Chris Hadfield becomes the fourth Canadian in space and the only Canadian to ever board the Russian space station Mir.
May 19 - 29, 1996
Second space flight for Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau, aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
June 20 - July 7, 1996
Second space mission for Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk, aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia.
August 7 - 19, 1997
First space mission for Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. He tests the Microgravity Isolation Mount. This Canadian technology will later become essential for research conducted in microgravity.
September 14, 1997
RADARSAT-1 captures the first high-resolution radar images of Antarctica in support of the Antarctic Mapping Mission. A mosaic of the entire continent, the first of its kind, is created in 1999, after two years of compiling 8,000 images.
April 17 - May 3, 1998
Aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, Dave Williams becomes the first Canadian astronaut assigned as official crew physician.
Oct. 29 - Nov. 7, 1998
At 77 years-old, U.S. astronaut John H. Glenn returns to space. Aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, he carries out two Canadian experiments, among them the OSTEO experiment designed to grow bone cells in microgravity.
May 27 - June 6, 1999
Julie Payette becomes the first Canadian astronaut to visit the International Space Station.
December 18, 1999
Canada's MOPITT sensor is launched aboard NASA's Terra satellite. MOPITT scans the Earth's atmosphere to track the origin and movement of carbon monoxide around the world.
Nov. 30 - Dec. 11, 2000
Marc Garneau, aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, sets a record among Canadian astronauts by carrying out a third space mission.
October 20, 2000
The Canadian Space Agency joins the European Space Agency and the French Space Agency (CNES) in founding the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters.” From here on, satellite data supports rescue and humanitarian operations during major disasters.
February 20, 2001
Launch of the Canadian instrument OSIRIS aboard Sweden's scientific satellite, Odin. OSIRIS observes ozone layer depletion.
March 8, 2001
Launch of Canada's first space science experiment on the International Space Station, H-Reflex. This experiment studies how the human body adapts to weightlessness.
April 19 - May 1, 2001
Canadarm2 is delivered to the International Space Station. Chris Hadfield becomes the first Canadian astronaut to perform a space walk and plays a major role in installing Canadarm2. During this mission, Canadarm2 and Canadarm performed the first robotic “handshake” in space.
March 1, 2002
ENVISAT (ESA) is launched. Canadian partners play a key role by contributing significant scientific and technical components.
June 5, 2002
The Mobile Base System, designed and built in Canada, is launched to the International Space Station. It is fully operational on June 10, 2002 and provides a moveable robotics work platform and storage facility.
June 30, 2003
Launch of the world's smallest astronomical space telescope, MOST. This Canadian telescope is capable of measuring the age of stars in our galaxy. It opens its eye to the cosmos on August 4, 2003.
August 12, 2003
Launch of a Canadian micro-satellite, SCISAT, which improves our understanding of the ozone layer depletion, with a special emphasis on the changes occurring over Canada, especially in the Arctic.
September 9 - 21, 2006
Astronaut Steve MacLean becomes the first Canadian to operate Canadarm2 in space.
February 18, 2007
The Canadian Space Agency supports THEMIS (NASA) ground operation sites in Canada. This mission investigates what causes auroras in the Earth's atmosphere to dramatically change.
August 8-21, 2007
Dave Williams performs three spacewalks and spends over 19 hours outside the International Space Station, setting a record for Canadian astronauts.
December 14, 2007
RADARSAT-2 is launched
RADARSAT-2 is launched, offering powerful technical advancements that enhance marine surveillance, ice monitoring, disaster management, environmental monitoring, resource management and mapping around the world.
March 11 - Dec.1, 2008
Launch of Dextre. This twoarmed Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator completes Canada's contribution of a suite of advanced robots on the International Space Station.
May 25, 2008
Phoenix Mars Lander (NASA) touches down on the Red Planet. Canada's meteorological station and green lidar instrument detect snow crystals and help to accurately model Mars' climate and weather.
May 13, 2009
Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques join Canada's Astronaut Corps.
May 14, 2009
ESA's Herschel Space Observatory and Planck Space Telescope are launched. Four Canadian science teams make important contributions to these projects.
May 27 - Dec. 1, 2009
Expedition 20/21: Robert Thirsk becomes the first Canadian to live and work on the International Space Station for a period of six months.
July 15-31, 2009
For the first time, two Canadian astronauts, Julie Payette and Robert Thirsk, are aboard the International Space Station at the same time.
September 17, 2009
Canadarm2 successfully captured an unpiloted, free-flying Japanese vehicle – the first Canadian cosmic catch.
September 20, 2010
AuroraMAX, an initiative to monitor the intensity and frequency of the Aurora Borealis, is officially launched. The project features an online observatory that provides live access to images of the northern lights.
July 8, 2011
Last mission of the Space Shuttle Program: Atlantis carries equipment for a new joint NASA-Canadian Space Agency robotic refueling test.
May 25, 2012
Canadarm2 performed a cosmic catch by grappling the Dragon capsule and attaching it to the International Space Station. Dragon is the first commercial spacecraft to dock to the Station.
June 15, 2012
The French Space Agency (CNES) has identified a Canadian site for the launch of space science balloons. The initiative will provide Canadian scientists and engineers with a new experiment platform.
July 30, 2012
Canada's contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope is delivered. Canada is providing Webb's Fine Guidance Sensor, which will keep the telescope on target, as well as the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph, to help find the earliest and most distant objects in the Universe.
August 6, 2012
The Mars Science Laboratory (NASA) touched down on the Red Planet. The mission's rover, dubbed Curiosity, carries a Canadian instrument. Known as the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer, the device will probe the chemistry of rocks and soil on Mars.
Astronaut Chris Hadfield returns to space for a third time and will become the first Canadian Commander of the International Space Station during the second half of his six-month mission.
May 23, 1963: Canada partners with NASA on ionospheric studies
Following the success of Alouette, Canada partners with NASA through the International Satellites for Ionospheric Studies (ISIS) program. Canada's ISIS satellites achieved near-perfect performance and orbits — with a high percentage of successful experiments. The data spawned more than 1,200 scientific papers. Next year, CASSIOPE will be launched to study “space weather” in the ionosphere, an extension of these early studies.
September 29, 1962: Canada is the third nation to build a satellite
Alouette-1 is launched, making Canada the third country to have designed and built its own satellite. Canadian technology companies stepped up to the challenge — and their hard-won expertise launched a new industry.
Today, Canada's space industry provides jobs for 8,256 Canadians at over 200 companies, generating $3.4 billion per year for our economy.
November 29, 1965: Alouette-2 is launched
Canada's Alouette-2 joins Alouette-1 in the study of the ionosphere. Because the ionosphere behaves differently at northern latitudes, understanding this region of the upper atmosphere is more than a scientific curiosity — it can affect power grids, radio signals, GPS and other technologies we rely on.
February 1967: John H. Chapman recommends national space agency
John H. Chapman recommends the creation of a national space agency, saying: "Canadian society will be held together by strands in space just as strongly as railway." Those "strands in space" now connect Canadians from coast to coast, delivering TV as well as broadband internet to every region. Satellites also provide critical information during natural disasters, helping to save lives and property.
September 1, 1969: Telesat gets off the ground
The federal government creates Telesat Canada to own and exploit Canadian communication satellites. Telesat connected Canadians and pioneered "Direct to Home" broadcasting. Canadians are familiar with the phrase: “Live via satellite.” Before satellites, major events — watching a gold medal winning performance in the Olympics — were first captured on film or videotape and transported between continents to be seen days later in Canada.
April 1, 1971: ISIS II is launched
ISIS II is launched to study the upper section of the ionosphere and produces the first picture of the aurora borealis (northern lights) from space. Monitoring the ionosphere helps scientists to understand “space weather” — disturbances that result from energy thrown out from the Sun. These bursts can damage satellites, disturb GPS navigation, affect aviation and cause electrical blackouts. Today, Space Weather Canada develops warnings and alerts that promote public safety.
April 1, 1971: The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing is created
The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing was created to use satellite data to strengthen the quality of life for Canadians. Satellites are used to monitor the health and availability of drinking water in Canada and abroad.
November 2, 1971: Dr. Gerhard Herzberg receives the Nobel Prize
Dr. Gerhard Herzberg received the Nobel Prize for his work in molecular spectroscopy, the study of the interaction of light with molecules. In astronomy, his work helped unravel mysteries surrounding the atmosphere of other planets. The National Research Council's Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria B.C., was named in honour of this brilliant Canadian scientist.
November 9, 1972: Using space to connect Canadians
Canada launched Anik-A1, the world's first commercial communications satellite into geostationary orbit. It had a vital mission — connecting Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast. In 1973, the CBC used Anik-A1 to broadcast news, Hockey Night in Canada — and Mr. Dressup — to the North. Today, communications satellites also deliver broadband internet services to remote communities.
1974: Canada chosen to build key space shuttle equipment
In the early days of the space shuttle program, NASA asked Canada to develop the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System, better known as Canadarm. Not only has it performed well in space, developing this robotics technology vaulted Canada into the upper echelons of this burgeoning industry. This expertise has revolutionized the uses of robotics technology here on Earth in areas such as manufacturing, underground mining and medicine.
May 7, 1975: Anik A3 continues improving communications
With the launch of the Anik A3 communications satellite, Telesat Canada accomplished another world first — teaming Anik A3 with Anik A2 in the same orbital position. Operating two satellites as one helped to increase the number of channels that could be delivered to Canadians. Anik satellites will soon link every last kilometre of the country to broadband internet.
January 17, 1976: Hermes satellite launched
The Hermes satellite signalled a new era in television news — live broadcasts from location. Before Hermes, television crews would videotape events and then drive or fly the tapes to a production centre. By using Hermes, reporters could deliver live news to your living room — allowing Canadians to see what's happening as it happens.
March to June 1977: Early telemedicine research
As a vast country that values universal health care, Canadians were among the first to see how space technology could link patients with health professionals. In 1977, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Western Ontario experimented with telemedicine using the Hermes satellite. Today, patients who are hundreds of kilometres from the nearest doctor can have face-to-face examinations through video-conferencing.
August 20, 1977: Canada contributes to Voyager mission
Canada's reputation as a trusted partner in exploration missions took a major step forward with the launch of the interplanetary probe Voyager 2. The telemetry instruments of Voyager 2 are attached to the tip of a Canadian-designed boom. The probe helped unlock mysteries of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Today, the Canadian Space Agency is an active partner in NASA's Mars Science Lab, which successfully landed in August 2012.
November 13, 1981: Canadarm launched aboard Space Shuttle
When the Canadarm was launched aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, the world took notice of Canada's technological know-how. As the robotic arm was extended, the word “Canada” was printed boldly — and proudly — on the side. Canadians can take extra pride in knowing that the same technology also saves lives – “neuroArm” is the world's first robot capable of performing delicate brain surgery inside magnetic resonance machines.
September 9, 1982: First rescue using satellite signals
On September 10, 1982, a Canadian ground station detected a satellite signal leading rescuers to three survivors of a light airplane crash in British Columbia. It was the first rescue of people in distress using satellites for detection and location. Since then, over 30,000 lives have been saved in Canada and around the world — hikers, explorers, sailors, fisherman and crash victims.
On September 29, 2012, Canada will celebrate 50 years of space activities that have propelled it into the ranks of world aerospace leaders. When it launched its first scientific satellite, Alouette I, on September 29, 1962, Canada became the first nation, after the Soviet and American super powers, to design and manufacture its own satellite. The launch marked Canada's entry into the space age, and Canada was recognized by the scientific community as having the most advanced space program at that time.
Its technical and technological success in those early days earned Canada considerable scientific credibility, which served as the foundation for developing the international partnerships in which all Canadians take pride.
In the wake of the Alouette's success, the government decided to support space communications and the growth of a Canadian space industry. This led to Canada becoming the first country to develop the following:
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