Astrophysicist David Saint-Jacques will be the next Canadian astronaut who will travel to space come 2018, officials have announced.
Canadian Space Agency's Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains announced on May 16 that Saint-Jacques is the first of the two Canadian astronauts who will be launched to space.
Upon the announcement, Saint-Jacques addressed the crowd and shared how early astronauts inspired him in his own journey. He also acknowledged the help of fellow astronaut, Jeremy Hansen.
He added that he is looking forward to experience spaceflight and promised that he would do what he can to contribute to space exploration. Saint-Jacques expressed enthusiasm to experience microgravity firsthand.
"Space exploration is the next step for humanity, and I am proud to be part of it," said Saint-Jacques. "I am humbled to represent Canada on this mission and promise to give it my very best."
Saint-Jacques is slated to go on a six-month mission aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket in November 2018. He will be among the Expedition 58/59 for his mission. The scheduled spaceflight would be the 17th for Canada.
Bains shared that Canada has sent a total of eight astronauts to space — six of them were in the International Space Station (ISS). He went on to say that Saint-Jacques would be among the new generation of Canadian astronauts who will continue to give pride to the nation.
Bains added that the Canadian government has pledged to support the agency's space missions. A total of $379 million is set aside to support the partnership between the Canadian Space Agency and the ISS.
Saint-Jacques is a family doctor, an engineer and an astrophysicist who has helped significantly in Canada's space-based medical research. He became a Canadian astronaut in 2009 and has been training ever since, but the scheduled spaceflight will be his first mission outside Earth. He will begin training for his mission in August.
Early this year, the Canadian Space Agency developed a debris damage detection system for the ISS. The technology, about the size of a microwave, is expected to launch in 2020 and will help show damage that are invisible to the naked eye.