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'Living his dream:' SMU astrophysicist explains David Saint-Jacques' International Space Station mission

The Canadian astronaut blasted off from Kazakhstan early Monday morning, heading to the International Space Station
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Official photo of Canadian Space Agency Astronaut David Saint-Jacques (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

A local astrophysics professor says it's an exciting day for the country.

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques blasted off from Kazakhstan early Monday morning, heading to space.

"It's really historic for him to be the third Canadian astronaut in space going up, spending six and a half months on the International Space Station," said Saint Mary's University's Dr. Rob Thacker. "This is really exciting because David is such an accomplished individual." 

"He has a PhD in astrophysics, he is a medical doctor as well, so when he's up there he's literally going to be living his dream."

Saint-Jacques will be conducting a number of experiments focused on the human body, and Thacker said he can't wait to see the results.

One will explore the impact of microgravity on bones.

"Bones, when they're out of gravity, start sort of wasting and becoming less dense over time," he explained. "I'm pretty sure he's looking at a space radiation experiment as well because you're above that protective layer of the atmosphere."

The research is designed to help us understand long term impacts of space travel on humans in order to make it safer.

"We're now seeing NASA talking about possibly building a space station that's around the moon, and then we're thinking beyond that ... we're designed for being on the ground, we're not designed for being in zero gravity, so there's a lot of stuff to learn."

Thacker hopes Saint-Jacques' visit to the ISS will be a stepping stone for Canada's aspirations in space.

"I would really love to see the government come up with a 10 year plan for how Canadians can be involved in space so that we can really start developing all those technologies and create the jobs that a lot of younger people would love to see," said Thacker. "We don't want them to have to go to the United States or Europe to work in space."

Saint-Jacques is scheduled to return to Earth in June 2019.




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Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana & lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the community editor for HalifaxToday.ca.
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