Chapter 11 – Canadian Engineers

Julie Payette – Engineer and Astronaut

Julie Payette

You can learn much more about her career from the Canadian Space Agency web site at

Personal Profile: Born October 20, 1963, in Montreal, Quebec

Education: Attended primary and secondary school in Montreal. International Baccalaureate (1982) from the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales, UK. Bachelor of Engineering, Electrical (1986) cum laude from McGill University. Master of Applied Science – Computer Engineering (1990) from the University of Toronto.

Experience: Before joining the space program, Ms. Payette conducted research in computer systems, natural language processing and automatic speech recognition. In June 1992, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) selected Ms. Payette from 5330 applicants to become one of four astronauts. After her basic training in Canada, she worked as a technical advisor for the Mobile Servicing System, an advanced robotics system contributed by Canada to the International Space Station (ISS).

Space Flight Experience: Julie Payette flew on Space Shuttle Discovery from May 27 to June 6, 1999, as a crewmember of STS-96. During the mission, the crew performed the first manual docking of the Shuttle to the International Space Station, and delivered four tons of supplies to the Station. Ms. Payette served as a mission specialist, was responsible for the Station’s systems, supervised the spacewalk and operated the Canadarm robotic arm. The STS-96 mission was accomplished in 153 orbits of the Earth, travelling more than six million kilometres in 9 days, 19 hours and 13 minutes. Ms. Payette was the first Canadian to participate in an ISS assembly mission and to board the Space Station.

From July 15 to 31, 2009, Julie Payette served as the flight engineer on the crew of STS-127 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on the 29th Shuttle mission to the International Space Station.  Robotics technology was used almost every day on this assembly mission and Ms. Payette operated all three robotic arms – the Shuttle’s Canadarm, the Space Station’s Canadarm2, and a special-purpose Japanese arm on Kibo. A record 13 astronauts of 5 different nationalities were together on board while the Shuttle was docked to the ISS. It was also the first time two Canadians were in space at the same time, Robert Thirsk was the other one.

On July 13, 2017, it was officially announced that Ms. Payette would become Canada’s 29th Governor General. Her installation took place on October 2, 2017.


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To the extent possible under law, Jennifer Kirkey has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Engineering and Technology in Society - Canada, except where otherwise noted.

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