He's been training for almost a decade. The flight plan has been in the works for years. But Monday, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques finally made the trip that he's been dreaming of for so long.
He flew to the International Space Station (ISS).
After a press conference and some goodbyes to family, he and fellow astronauts Oleg Kononenko and Anne McClain stepped on board a Russian Soyuz rocket in Kazakhstan. The rocket launched perfectly and about eight hours later—at 2:37pm EST—Saint-Jacques floated through the hatch and into the ISS for the first time.
"Je suis juste complètement abasourdi par tout ce que j’ai vu dans les dernières six heures, c’est incroyable," he said in French after his arrival. "I'm just completely stunned by everything I've seen over the last six hours, it's incredible."
And why wouldn't he be? He's in space!
First Canadian in five years
The successful arrival means that he is the first Canadian astronaut on the ISS in over five years. Chris Hadfield left the station in May of 2013. So what can we expect from our country's newest cosmic voyager?
Saint-Jacques is an astro-physicist who was born in Quebec City, Quebec in 1970. He is also an engineer and a doctor (in fact, he's the official doctor on his ISS mission, Expedition 58), so we're fairly certain that in addition to being a patient guy, he's one smart cookie.
Which is good news. Because on the ISS, he'll need every bit of his composure and brains to complete Mission: Perspective. That is the name that has been given to his official duties on board the space station. Between now and next July he'll be conducting dozens of science experiments, operating the Canadarm 2, and looking after the Columbus module (a lab on the ISS).
We couldn't be more excited for David and the whole crew.
Watch him blast off in the video below. (Skip ahead to 3:47 for a view inside the rocket after launch—Saint-Jacques is on the right, cool as a cucumber!)
Amazingly, Saint-Jacques' reaching the ISS wasn't the only big piece of Canadian space news yesterday. Back in 2016, we told you about the launch of OSIRIS-REx. It is a NASA space probe that was launched to an asteroid named Bennu. And at 12:09pm EST Monday, it reached its destination. Talk about a big day for arrivals.
This large asteroid could possibly contain information that scientist can use to learn more about the formation of the solar system and the planets. So OSIRIS-REx will be collecting samples and information, then returning them to Earth. And how is Canada involved? The craft is using a Canadian-made lidar device, which uses lasers to measure and probe objects.
Far out, Canada!