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Timeline of the Canadian Space Agency

The significant CSA events since Alouette’s launch
  • Sep 30, 2014
  • 772 words
  • 4 minutes
Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk Expand Image

Since 1989, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has promoted the peaceful use and development of space and has been committed to advancing space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and the world. Thanks to the efforts of the CSA and its partners, Canada has become a world-leader in space robotics and is a partner in the International Space Station. Here is a timeline of significant events from CSA’s 25 years in operation.


Sept. 29, 1962 
Canada launches Alouette, a satellite to gather data on the ionosphere, and becomes the third nation, after Russia and the United States, to design and build its own satellite. 

Feb. 1967
John Herbert Chapman, the leading manager of the Alouette program, recommends the creation of a national space agency.

Nov. 9, 1972
Telesat Canada launches the Anik A1 communications satellite and Canada becomes the first country with a domestic communications satellite in geostationary orbit.

Nov. 13, 1981
Canadarm is launched aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on mission STS-2.

Sept. 29, 1982
Impressed with Canadarm’s performance, NASA invites a Canadian to fly in space; this is the beginning of the Canadian astronaut program.

Dec. 5, 1983
The first six Canadian astronauts are selected: Roberta Bondar, Marc Garneau, Steve MacLean, Ken Money, Robert Thirsk and Bjarni Tryggvason.

Oct. 5-13, 1984
Astronaut Marc Garneau becomes the first Canadian in space on mission STS-41G aboard Challenger.


March 1
The CSA is created, with Larkin Kerwin as its first president.


Jan. 22-30
Astronaut Roberta Bondar becomes the second Canadian, and first Canadian woman, in space aboard Discovery on mission STS-42.

June 8
The CSA selects its second group of astronauts: Chris Hadfield, Julie Payette, Robert Stewart and Dr. David Williams. A week later, Robert Stewart resigns for personal reasons and is replaced by Michael John McKay.

Oct. 22
Steve MacLean becomes the third Canadian astronaut in space on mission STS-52.


The CSA headquarters are completed in Saint-Hubert, Que. and includes astronaut-training facilities, RADARSAT Mission Control Room, the MOC (MSS Operation Centre) and laboratories. (The facility is later renamed the John H. Chapman Space Centre in 1996.)


July 8
Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau becomes the first non-American Capsule Communicator for mission STS-65 at Mission Control in Houston.


Nov. 4
CSA launches RADARSAT, Canada’s first Earth-observation satellite.

Nov. 12-20
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield becomes the first Canadian Mission Specialist and the first Canadian aboard space station Mir on mission STS-74.


May 19
Marc Garneau becomes the first Canadian astronaut to fly in space twice on mission STS-77.

June 20
Bob Thirsk takes his first space flight, and the longest ever by a Canadian astronaut, as a Payload Specialist on mission STS-78.


Sept. 14
RADARSAT-1 takes the first high-resolution satellite image of the South Pole.


May 27
Julie Payette becomes the eighth Canadian astronaut in space and the first one to board the space station on mission STS-96/2A.1.


April 19
Chris Hadfield becomes the first Canadian to perform a spacewalk on mission STS-100 to deliver Canadarm2 to the International Space Station.

June 5
Canada’s Mobile Base System for the International Space Station is launched.


June 30
Canada launches its first space telescope, MOST (microvariability and oscillations of stars).


Aug. 4
NASA’s Phoenix Mars lander is launched and includes Canadian-built meteorological instruments to track the weather and climate on Mars.

Dec. 14
RADARSAT-2 is launched and offers enhanced marine surveillance, ice monitoring, disaster management, environmental monitoring, resource management and mapping in Canada and around the world.


March 11
Dextre (Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator) is launched and becomes Canada’s latest contribution to the International Space Station.


May 13 
Canada’s newest astronauts are revealed: Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques.

May 27 
Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk launches aboard Soyuz TMA-15, marking the start of Canada’s first long-duration mission in space.

June 4
Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil and the ONE DROP Foundation, becomes the first Canadian private space explorer to visit the International Space Station. 

Sept. 17 
The Canadarm2 successfully performs its cosmic catch on an unpiloted, free-flying Japanese vehicle.


Sept. 20 
The CSA and partner organizations launch AuroraMAX, an initiative to monitor the intensity and frequency of the Aurora Borealis.


Jan. 9
The CSA launches the final stage of Canada’s RADARSAT Constellation project.

March 13
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield becomes the first Canadian Commander of the International Space Station.

Sept. 29
The CSA launches Cascade Smallsat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer (CASSIOPE), a Canadian hybrid satellite.


Feb. 7
The plan for Canada’s future in space is unveiled.

— With files from the Canadian Space Agency


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This story is from the October 2014 Issue

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