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Bob Thirsk

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Canadian Astronaut Bob Thirsk

Canadian Astronaut Bob Thirsk

NASA Johnson Space Center

Updated: 12/30/12

About Bob Thirsk:

Bob Thirsk was one of the first six Canadians chosen for the Canadian astronaut program in 1983. In 2009, at the age of 55, Bob Thirsk began his second space mission, launching aboard a Russian spacecraft from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on his way to the International Space Station (ISS). Bob Thirsk was part of a six-person crew living and working on the International Space Station for six months. He was the crew's medical officer and robotics specialist, performed scientific experiments and maintained and repaired the ISS.

Space Missions of Bob Thirsk:

  • Payload specialist on Space Mission STS-78 - Life and Microgravity Spacelab (LMS) - Space Shuttle Columbia - June 20 to July 7, 1996

  • Flight engineer on Expedition 20/21 - Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft to ISS - May 27, 2009 to December 1, 2009

Birth:

August 17, 1953 in New Westminster, BC

Education:

  • Attended primary and secondary school in BC, Alberta and Manitoba

  • BSc in Mechanical Engineering - University of Calgary

  • MSc in Mechanical Engineering - MIT

  • MD - McGill University

  • MBA - MIT Sloan School of Management

Bob Thirsk's Career as an Astronaut:

  • In 1983, Bob Thirsk was one of the first six Canadians selected for the Canadian astronaut program.

  • He was the backup payload specialist for Marc Garneau for space mission STS-41G in 1984.

  • Bob Thirsk was crew commander for two space mission simulations: the 1994 CAPSULS mission at Defence Research and Development Canada in Toronto, and the 2004 NEEMO 7 undersea mission at the National Undersea Research Center in Key Largo, Florida.

  • In 1996, Bob Thirsk was a payload specialist on Space Mission STS-78. On this Life and Microgravity Spacelab mission, the crew did experiments to investigate changes in plants, animals, and humans in space. They also conducted chemistry and physics experiments in a weightless environment.

  • In 1998, Bob Thirsk went to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston for training as a mission specialist. While there, he served as a CapCom (capsule communicator) for the ISS, providing a communications link between Mission Control on the ground and the astronauts in space.

  • In 2004, Bob Thirsk went to Moscow where he was certified as a flight engineer for the Soyuz spacecraft. In 2005, he was the backup flight engineer for European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Roberto Vittori for the Soyuz 10S taxi mission to the ISS. During that mission, he was also the European CapCom at the Columbus Control Centre in Germany.

  • In 2007 Bob Thirsk took further European CapCom training in Germany.

  • Bob Thirsk has also worked with educational specialists in Canada to develop space-related curriculum for students, such as Canolab, Space for Species, and Tomatosphere.

  • Bob Thirsk began training for Expedition 20/21 in 2008.

  • Bob Thirsk launched on Expedition 20/21 on May 27, 2009 in a Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan headed for the ISS. Bob Thirsk was part of a six-person crew living and working on the ISS for six months. He was the crew's medical officer and robotics specialist, and also performed scientific experiments and maintained and repaired the ISS. He returned to earth on December 1, 2009.

  • In 2012 Bob Thirsk resigned from the Canadian Space Agency to take up a position with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in Ottawa. His new job is Vice-President of Public, Government and Institute Affairs and he is responsible for thirteen health care institutes dealing with issues such as aging and cancer research.

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