Ex-McGill runner to fly into space Wednesday

Ex-McGill runner to fly into space Wednesday

Jul. 13, 2009

Canadian astronaut Julie Payette, a McGill University graduate (BEng '86), is poised to make history again this week when she boards the space shuttle Endeavour and is launched into the heavens for the second time in her career. After a few delays due to poor weather conditions, blast-off is now scheduled for Wednesday (July 15) at 6:03 p.m. EDT.

Monday's attempt was canceled due to poor weather conditions within the launch area at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Anvil clouds and storm cells containing lightning flared up toward the end of the countdown, violating stringent launch safety rules. The outlook is better on Wednesday, with only a 40 percent chance of weather conditions prohibiting liftoff.

Payette, a distance runner on the McGill cross-country team while studying for a doctorate in 1994-95, will operate all three robotic arms (Canadarm, Canadarm2 and the Japanese arm) During the 16-day mission. She will also participate in a Canadian first -- meeting with Robert Thirsk, another McGill grad (MD'82), at the International Space Station, where he's working for the next five months on plans to deploy Canadian robots on other planets. It will mark the first time Canada has had two astronauts in space at the same time

Mission STS-127 is one of the last major assembly flights for the International Space Station (ISS) and will consist of several space walks and robotics operations for the crew.

The public will be able to follow the event live on the Canadian Space Agency web site atwww.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/missions/sts-127/default.asp