CSA Selects Medical Doctor, Fighter Pilot as Astronauts



Nearly 25 years after the first Canadian astronaut flew into space and only weeks before two Canadian space veterans launch to the International Space Station, the Honourable Industry Minister Tony Clement and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) President Steve MacLean revealed the names of Canada’s newest astronauts.

Jeremy Hansen and David St-Jacques are the first Canadians to join the astronaut corps since 1992. They become the 11th and 12th Canadians to join the Canadian Astronaut Corps. Hansen is a Canadian Forces fighter pilot, St. Jacques is a medical doctor.

“Canada is poised for the future, extending our proud history of achievements in human spaceflight, science and technology innovation and space exploration,” said the Honourable Tony Clement. “These new astronauts will support Canada’s contribution to the International Space Station and continue to inspire our young Canadians to pursue advanced studies in the sciences and reach for their dreams.”

The new astronauts were chosen among 5351 applicants. Through the year-long recruitment process, candidates underwent evaluations ranging from robotics to physical fitness testing.

“I am inspired by the outstanding talent I have seen in the Canadians that applied to become astronauts. Canadians have risen to the top in so many areas of achievement and our recruitment campaign attracted the best and the brightest of our nation,” said CSA President Steve MacLean. “The Canadian Space Agency’s two new astronauts will embark on a career which, I can say from personal experience, will be full of adventure and personal fulfillment. And they will do important work on behalf of Canada and on behalf of humanity.”

The new astronauts will undergo brief training at the CSA headquarters this summer. In August 2009, they will begin their astronaut training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Until then, the new Canadian Space Agency astronauts will support the launch activities of their colleagues, Canadian astronauts, Robert Thirsk and Julie Payette. Bob Thirsk will take part in a long-duration mission on the International Space Station and is scheduled to launch on May 27 from Baikonur Kazakhstan. Julie Payette, will be a mission specialist on STS-127, which is scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 13.



David Saint-Jacques

Personal profile
: Born January 6, 1970 in Quebec City, Quebec, and raised in Saint-Lambert, Quebec. He is currently engaged to be married and is a lifelong competitive alpine skier and passionate sailor. He is fluent in English and French, has basic knowledge of Spanish and Japanese and notions of Inuktitut.

Education: Dr. Saint-Jacques graduated from Collège de Montréal (1987) and Cégep Maisonneuve in Montreal (1989). He went on to earn a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Engineering Physics from École polytechnique de Montréal (1993). He earned a PhD in Astrophysics from Cambridge University, UK (1998), where his studies included theoretical work on astronomical observation and design, fabrication and commissioning of instruments for the Cambridge Optical Aperture Synthesis Telescope and for the William Herschel Telescope in the Canary Islands. He earned his MD from Université Laval in Quebec City, Quebec (2005) and completed his family medicine residency at McGill University (2007), where his training focused on first-line, isolated medical practice.

Experience: Prior to joining the Canadian Space Program, Dr. Saint-Jacques was a medical doctor practicing as the Co-chief of Medicine at Inuulitsivik Health Centre in Puvirnituq, Quebec. He also worked as a Clinical Faculty Lecturer at McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine.

Dr. Saint-Jacques began his career as a biomedical engineer and his broad scientific background also includes astrophysics and medical training. His postdoctoral research included the development and application of the Mitaka Infrared Interferometer and the Subaru Telescope Adaptive Optics System in Japan (1999-2001). During his medical studies, he researched traditional Maya medicine and midwifery in Guatemala (2002). His international study experience also includes France, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Hawaii and Palestinian refugee camps.

Special honours include:

Canada Millennium Scholarship (2001-2005)

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Post-Doctoral Fellowship (1999-2001)

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) “1967” Science and Engineering Scholarship (1994-1998)

Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Honorary Scholar (1994-1998)


Jeremy R. Hansen

Personal profile: Born January 27, 1976 in London, Ontario, and raised in Ingersoll, Ontario. Mr. Hansen is married with three children. He enjoys sailboat cruising and racing, rock climbing, mountain biking and playing intramural hockey.

Education: Mr. Hansen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Space Science (First Class Honours) from Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario (1999). He earned a Master of Science in Physics from the same institution in 2000, with a research focus on Wide Field of View Satellite Tracking.

Experience: Prior to joining the Canadian Space Program, Mr. Hansen served as a CF-18 fighter pilot and held the position of Combat Operations Officer at 4 Wing Operations in Cold Lake, Alberta. His responsibilities included ensuring the effectiveness of NORAD Air Defence Operations, ensuring the operability of Deployed and Forward Operating Locations (Bases) and Subordinate Leadership and management of Wing personnel and assets.

From 2006-2007, Mr. Hansen served as a CF-18 fighter pilot in the 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, where his responsibilities included leading tactical formations of up to four CF-18s and serving as a Maintenance Test Pilot. From 2004-2006, he served as a CF-18 fighter pilot in the 441 Tactical Fighter Squadron, where his responsibilities included Operations, Scheduling and Deployed Exercises and Arctic Flying Operations. He served as a CF-18 Fighter Pilot in the 410 Fighter Training Squadron from 2003-2004 and conducted his Pilot Training at various military bases from 2001-2003. His experience also includes frequent deployments to the United States and Europe.

His flight career began at an early age in the Air Cadets, which led to early acceptance at Collège militaire royal in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

Special honours include:

Officer Development Military Education Program (Honours) – Royal Military College Division of Continuing Studies (April 2008)

Canadian Forces Decoration – 12 Years of Good Service (October 2006)

Canadian Air Force Pilot Wings (May 2002)

Air Cadet League of Canada Award – Top Air Force Graduate from the Royal Military College of Canada (May 1999)