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Julie Payette


Canadian Astronaut Julie Payette

Canadian Astronaut Julie Payette

Matt Stroshane / Getty Images

Updated: 12/30/12

About Julie Payette:

Julie Payette has been a Canadian astronaut since 1992. A professional engineer, Julie Payette is also a singer and pianist, is fluent in English and French, and has conversational skills in Spanish, Italian and Russian. In 1999, Julie Payette flew on her first space mission. She was the first Canadian to participate in an International Space Station (ISS) assembly mission and to board the ISS. In 2009, on her second mission to the ISS, she met up with Canadian Astronaut Bob Thirsk who is on an extended stay on the ISS. It marked the first time two Canadians have been in space at the same time.

Space Missions of Julie Payette:


October 20, 1963 in Montreal, Quebec


  • International Baccalaureate - United World College of the Atlantic, South Wales, UK

  • BEng (Electrical) - McGill University, Montreal, Quebec

  • MSc in Computer Engineering - University of Toronto


  • Professional engineer
  • Astronaut

Engineering and Research Career of Julie Payette:

  • Before becoming an astronaut, Julie Payette performed research in computer systems, natural language processing and automatic speech recognition.

  • She was a system engineer with IBM Canada from 1986 to 1988.

  • Julie Payette worked as a research assistant at the University of Toronto from 1988 to 1990.

  • She was a visiting scientist at the IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich, Switzerland in 1991.

  • Julie Payette also worked as a research engineer at Bell Northern Research in Montreal in 1992.

Julie Payette the Astronaut:

  • In 1992, Julie Payette was selected by the Canadian Space Agency as one of four Canadian astronauts from a field of more than 5000 applicants.

  • She did her basic astronaut training in Canada.

  • Julie Payette then worked as a technical advisor on the Mobile Servicing System (MSS), the robotics system which is Canada's major contribution to the ISS.

  • In 1993, Payette established the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Group in the Canadian Space Program.

  • Julie Payette's preparation for an assignment to a space mission included getting a commercial pilot's licence, studying Russian, working as a research operator on reduced gravity aircraft, earning certification as a one-atmosphere deep sea diving suit operator, obtaining captaincy on the CT-114 military jet, and getting her military instrument rating.

  • In August 1996, Julie Payette reported to the NASA Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.

  • After completing initial astronaut training there, she worked on technical issues in robotics for the Astronaut Office.

  • In 1999, Julie Payette flew as a mission specialist on Space Mission STS-96. The mission made the first manual docking of the shuttle to the ISS and delivered four tons of supplies to the space station. Julie Payette was responsible for ISS systems, supervised the space walk and operated the Canadarm.

  • From 1999 to 2002, Julie Payette represented the Astronaut Corps at the European and Russian space agencies and supervised the development of procedures, verification of equipment and processing space hardware for the ISS Program.

  • Julie Payette then served as CapCom (capsule communicator) at Mission Control in Houston. She was lead CapCom for Space Shuttle Mission STS-121 in 2006.

  • From 2000 to 2007, Julie Payette also held the position of Chief Astronaut of the Canadian Space Agency.

  • In July 2009, Julie Payette flew on Space Mission STS-127, her second space mission to the ISS. As a flight engineer, Julie Payette was part of the cockpit crew flying the shuttle and docking it to the ISS. She was also responsible for operating three robotic arms during this space mission: the shuttle's Canadarm, the ISS Canadarm 2, and a Japanese robotic arm on the ISS Japanese Laboratory Kibo. On this space mission, Julie Payette also met up with Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk who was on a six-month stay on the ISS. It marked the first time two Canadians were in space at the same time.

  • At the beginning of 2011 Julie Payette began a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C.

  • In October 2011, she was appointed scientific authority for Quebec in Washington for the Quebec Department of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade. She remains a member of the Canadian Astronaut Corps.

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