The Space Shuttle Program’s 30-year legacy represents an era of unprecedented achievements in spaceflight and space exploration.
For Canada, it has been the period during which our country rapidly developed specialized niche expertise in many space sectors, including scientific instruments and satellites, tele-communications, remote sensing, advanced vision systems, 3-D lasers, LIDARs and TriDARs.
Making its debut in November 1981, on the second Space Shuttle flight, Canadarm has since become an important and iconic symbol of Canadian robotic expertise. Canadarm is an absolutely indispensible tool, launching satellites, assisting in the repair and upgrade of the Hubble Space Telescope, and handling and transferring cargo and structures to assist in the construction of the International Space Station (ISS).
With Canada’s contribution of Canadarm to the Space Shuttle Program, also came an invitation to create our own Astronaut Corps and fly Canadian astronauts alongside our American colleagues. Canada proudly accepted the invitation and since that time, Canadian astronauts were honoured to be carried on 14 Space Shuttle flights over the past 27 years. From Marc Garneau, Canada’s first astronaut in space, and Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first female astronaut in space, eight Canadians have valiantly flown, conducting experiments, and supporting the construction and use of the world’s largest microgravity laboratory, the International Space Station (ISS).
Canada has leveraged its scientific and technological expertise to strengthen our partnerships with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), initially through our participation and collaboration on the Space Shuttle and now through our work on the ISS.
Here at the Canadian Space Agency, we have learned so much over these past 30 years, and have much to be proud of as we salute the thousands of dedicated and passionate employees who have supported the Space Shuttle Program. NASA has been a tremendous partner. As we finish building, and increase the scientific and technical use of the International Space Station, it is the legacy of the Shuttle program that continues to shape our collective efforts – in preparation for the journey to distant planets.