Canada’s newest celestial traveller, David Saint-Jacques, greeted fellow astronauts and waved to everyone back on Earth as he took up residence on the International Space Station on Monday, fulfilling a childhood dream to go to space.
Easy to spot with a bold maple leaf design emblazoned across his jumpsuit, the Quebec-born astrophysicist-physician floated through the hatch of his MS-11 Soyuz capsule about 2:37 p.m. (ET), a little over eight hours after he and two crewmates lifted off from the Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.
“You are representatives of the world’s future,” said Governor-General and former astronaut Julie Payette, who was at the launch and who was first to welcome the new arrivals during a radio call with Earth.
A few minutes later, while speaking with his wife, Véronique Morin, for the first time since reaching the station, Dr. Saint-Jacques said the experience had left him at a loss for words.
“I’m astonished by what I’ve seen,” he said in French as the station sailed 409 kilometres above the Arabian Sea. He added: “I know you’re all there with me in my heart.”
Dr. Saint-Jacques’s safe arrival at the Earth-orbiting facility, together with veteran Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and U.S. astronaut Anne McClain, was just one part of an action-packed day for Canada’s space program.