Canadian Astronauts

October 01, 2003

"Canada has earned its place in space," says Marc Garneau, "with Canadian expertise, ideas and innovation." 1 For over 40 years, this country's space program has developed pioneering technologies that have advanced the science of space and helped to improve our world. In the past two decades, eight Canadian astronauts have flown into space aboard NASA's 2 space shuttles, more than any other country except the United States. Garneau was the first among them; he now serves as president of the Canadian Space Agency.

To honour the achievements of Canadian astronauts and the space program that has made their work possible, Canada Post will issue eight domestic rate (48¢) self-adhesive stamps as a unique stamp pane, each depicting one of our astronauts that have flown in space.

The Canadian Space Program
With the launch of the satellite Alouette-1 in 1962, Canada entered the space age. Alouette was the first satellite designed and built by a country other than the United States or Russia, and its success established the reputation of our space program.

This first success spawned many others, particularly in the area of communications. Ten years after Alouette, Canada became the first country with a domestic communications satellite in geostationary orbit. Further research led to mobile satellite technology that helped link remote communities. Today, Canadian technology leads the world in fields such as satellite communications, earth observation and space robotics.

The Canadian Space Agency was formed in 1989 to coordinate space research, technology and the astronaut program. One of its foremost goals is to apply space science in ways that improve the quality of our everyday lives. Canadian space research has helped advance technologies in such diverse fields as television broadcasting, weather forecasting, mobile communications and medicine.

Canadians in space
In response to an invitation from NASA, the first Canadian astronauts were chosen in 1983 to fly aboard the space shuttle. New recruits joined the original team of six in 1992. Of this group, eight astronauts have now flown into space.

Marc Garneau is a veteran of three space shuttle flights, and has logged over 677 hours in space. He flew aboard the shuttle Challenger in 1984, and aboard Endeavour in 1996 and 2000. He holds a doctorate in electrical engineering, and is an officer of the Order of Canada.

Roberta Bondar is a medical doctor with a Ph.D. in neurobiology. She was the first neurologist and the first Canadian woman in space, aboard space shuttle Discovery in 1992, where she worked on the International Microgravity Laboratory. She is an officer of the Order of Canada and, for her pioneering space research, has been elected to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

Steve MacLean flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1992, where he tested the Canadian Space Vision System, a computerized eye for robotic devices like the Canadarm. He has a doctorate in physics, and remains on active astronaut status with NASA.

Chris Hadfield, an engineer and accomplished test pilot, is the only Canadian to have visited the Russian space station Mir, which he boarded from the space shuttle Atlantis in 1995. He flew aboard Endeavour in 2001, and became the first Canadian to perform a spacewalk while installing Canadarm2 on the International Space Station as featured on the front cover.

Robert Thirsk, an engineer and medical doctor, flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1996 to perform a series of experiments on microgravity and life sciences in the shuttle's Spacelab module. His 17-day mission was the longest for a Canadian astronaut.

Bjarni Tryggvason flew aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1997. Trained in engineering physics and applied mathematics, he conducted tests in space on the Canadian Microgravity Vibration Mount, an instrument he designed to counter the effects of spacecraft vibrations on fluid science experiments.

Dave Williams is a medical doctor specializing in neurophysiology and emergency medicine. He flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1998 for the Neurolab mission, in which the crew did experiments to study the effects of microgravity on the brain and nervous system. He was the first Canadian to be awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, in 2002.

Julie Payette is an electrical engineer specializing in computer engineering. On a ten-day mission to dock the space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station in 1999, she operated the Canadarm while in orbit and became the first Canadian to actually board the International Space Station. She is currently Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency.

About the stamp designs
The eight stamps were designed by Pierre-Yves Pelletier in spherical shapes that call to mind the path of an orbit. The twinkling star is an image found on the Canadian Space Agency's logo; it represents a productive, energy-producing star, believed to have influence over human destiny. Its twinkling appearance is the result of holographic hot stamping and micro-embossing.

Each stamp portrays an astronaut and illustrates a highlight of his or her mission, and the back of the stamp pane provides brief descriptions. The bottom of the pane illustrates the "Canadian space handshake" of 2001, when the Canadarm2 on the International Space Station transferred its launching cradle to the Canadarm on the shuttle Endeavour, with astronaut Chris Hadfield at the controls.

1 See "A Word from our President" at
2 National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States

Pane of 8 stamps

Pane of 8 stamps


  • Product #: 113546
  • Denomination: 8 x 48¢
  • Design: Pierre-Yves Pelletier
  • Dimensions: 40 mm diameter
  • Printer: Lowe-Martin
  • Printing Process: Lithography in 6 colours, with foil stamping in 2 colours and spot varnish
  • Quantity: 6,000,000
  • Gum Type: Self-adhesive
  • Perforations: Kiss cut
  • Tagging: General, all around
  • Photography: Canadian Space Agency; NASA
  • Paper Type: Tullis Russell Coatings
  • OFDC Cancellation Location: Saint-Hubert QC
Official First Day Cover

Official First Day Cover


  • Product #: 413546131
  • OFDC Cancellation Location: Saint-Hubert QC