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Julie Payette - Canada's Hall Of Fame Inductee

Julie Payette

Chief Astronaut Julie Payette, engineer, musician, and pilot, who has logged more than 1200 flying hours and 25 days in space, will be inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame at its annual dinner in Vancouver on June 10, 2010.

Payette is a Canadian engineer and a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut. She has completed two space flights, STS-96 and STS-127. She currently serves as Chief Astronaut for the CSA and has served in other roles for both NASA and CSA such as Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) for the STS-121 mission.

Payette attended elementary and secondary schools in Montreal and in 1982 completed an international baccalaureate diploma at the international United World College of the Atlantic in South Wales, United Kingdom. She received a bachelor of engineering cum laude from McGill in 1896 and a master of applied science from the University of Toronto in 1990.

From 1986 to 1988 she worked as a systems engineer for IBM, Canada’s Science Engineering division, and from 1988 to 1990 as a graduate student at the University of Toronto where she was involved in a high-performance computer-architecture project working as a teaching assistant. In early 1991, Payette joined the Communications and Science department of the IBM Research laboratory in Zurich, Switzerland, for a one-year visiting scientist appointment. On her return to Canada she joined the Speech Research Group of Bell-Northern research in Montreal and was responsible for a project in telephone speech understanding with computer voice recognition.

In June of 1992, Payette was selected as one of four astronauts from a field of 5,330 candidates. After undergoing basic training in Canada, she worked as a technical advisor for Mobile Servicing System, an advanced robotics system and Canada’s contribution to the International Space Station. In 1993 Payette established the Human-Computer Interaction Group at the Canadian Astronaut Program and served as technical specialist on the NATO International Research Study Group on speech processing.

To prepare for a space assignment, Payette obtained her commercial pilot license and logged 120 hours as a research operator on board reduced gravity aircraft. Next, Payette won her certification as a one-atmosphere deep-sea diving suit operator. She received her captaincy on the CT-114 Tutor military jet trainer at CFB Moose Jaw in February 1996. She obtained her military instrument rating in 1997.

Payette flew on Space Shuttle Discovery May 26 to June 6, 1999, as part of the crew of STS-96. During this mission, the crew performed the first manual docking of the shuttle to the International Space Station and delivered four tons of logistics and supplies to it. On Discovery, Payette served as mission specialist, held responsibility for the station systems, and operated the Canadarm robotic arm. She again flew aboard Space Shuttle Endeavor during mission STS-127 from July 15 through July 31, 2009, as flight engineer for that mission. During STS-121, Payette served as CAPCOM at the Mission Control Center in Houston.

Julie Payette
Payette looks through an overhead window while operating the Canadarm controls on the aft flight deck of Endeavor during STS-127 activities.

Payette is a French Canadian who is fluent in French and English, and she also speaks some Spanish, German, Italian, and Russian. She is married to Billie Flynn, a test pilot and former Canadian Forces officer. She has two sons. Payette plays the piano and has sung with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and several others.

In 2000, she was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec. Payette was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of Alberta at its fall convocation on November 22, 2006. She holds 14 honorary degrees in all.

Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame is located at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. Founded in 1973, members have come from all across Canada and have led extraordinary lives as military and civilian pilots, doctors, scientists, inventors, aeronautical engineers, and administrators.

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