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Steve MacLean

Biography of Canadian Astronaut Steve MacLEan


Dateline: 12/31/12

About Steve MacLean

One of the first six Canadian astronauts selected in 1983, Steve MacLean has a PhD in physics and also competed in gymnastics at the national level. He has flown on two space missions, one in 1992 and the second in 2006.

President of the Canadian Space Agency

2008 to present

Space Missions of Steve MacLean


December 14, 1954, in Ottawa, Ontario.


BSc and PhD in Physics - York University, Toronto, Ontario

Steve MacLean's Early Career

  • Steve MacLean worked in sports administration and public relations at York University from 1974 to 1976.

  • He competed on the Canadian National Gymnastics Team from 1976 to 1977.

  • He taught part time at York University from 1980 to 1983.

  • Steve MacLean then went as a visiting scholar to Stanford University where he worked under laser physicist and Nobel Laureate A.L. Schawlow. Steve MacLean's physics research has included work on electro-optics, laser-induced fluorescence of particles and crystals, and multi-photon laser spectroscopy.

Steve MacLean the Astronaut

  • In 1983, Steve MacLean was one of the first six Canadian astronauts selected, along with Marc Garneau, Roberta Bondar, Bob Thirsk, Bjarni Tryggvason and Ken Money. The selection process was put in place after NASA offered to give Canadian astronauts places as payload specialists on space shuttles.

  • Steve MacLean began his astronaut training in 1984.

  • He worked with the Advanced Space Vision System (ASVS), which provides data to help control the Canadarms and then became an advisor on the Strategic Technologies in Automation and Robotics (STEAR) Program.

  • Steve MacLean's first space mission was as a payload specialist on the STS-52 Mission on board space shuttle Columbia. On the 10-day mission, he was responsible for a series of Canadian experiments in space technology, space science, materials processing, and life sciences. They included an evaluation of the Space Vision System.

  • After the space mission, Steve MacLean became the Chief Science Advisor for the International Space Station (ISS) and developed a streamlined space management plan for the ISS.

  • From 1994 to 1996, he was Director General of the Canadian Astronaut Program, responsible for major projects on space missions and for negotiating shuttle flights with NASA.

  • In 1996, he moved to Houston for mission specialist training. He also worked in the NASA Astronaut Office Robotics Branch. He then served as Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) for both the ISS Program and the Shuttle Program at the Johnson Space Center.

  • After the Space Shuttle Columbia accident in 2003, Steve MacLean became involved in NASA's efforts to increase crew and vehicle safety

  • In 2006, Steve MacLean went to space again on Space Mission STS-115. He was a mission specialist and also acted as flight engineer and robotics lead for the first assembly flight of the ISS after the Columbia accident. He was the first Canadian to operate Canadarm2 in space using it to install trusses and solar array panels on the ISS. He also became the second Canadian to walk in space.

  • Back in Canada, he served as Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency, and handled other management responsibilities. Steve MacLean was appointed President of the Canadian Space Agency in 2008.

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