Tag Archives: David Saint-Jacques

The Amazing Canadian Space Race – #CSAtweetup

5 Oct

Recently Jesse and I were invited to tag along with the latest group of #CSAtweetup tweeps, who participated in an event put on by the Canadian Space Agency called the Amazing Canadian Space Race.

It was the first event of it’s kind involving astronauts and ordinary members of the public (as far as I know). It took for the form of the popular TV show The Amazing Race, but pitted two teams against each other, each lead by one of Canada’s astronauts.

Jesse went with Team David, while I was with Team Jeremy.

The event took the teams around Toronto and highlighted the many players in the Canadian space industry – from government, to education/research – including York University – and private business.

It’s actually pretty amazing how much Canadian space industry is based right here in Toronto.

In any case, here is the video and written special report that I filed for Sun News Network:


Video not loading? Watch it here.

Canadian astronauts took to the streets of Toronto this week as part of the Amazing Canadian Space Race.

The event was part of the 65th annual International Astronautical Congress, the world’s premier space conference bringing together private, government, and military partners from around the world.

Astronaut’s Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques were each joined by members of the public and sent on a day-long adventure around Toronto, visiting education and industry partners, connected to Canada’s space industry.

“We’re one of the few early space-faring nations, and you have to remember is that everything we do in space comes back down to Earth,” said Saint-Jacques.

He also pointed to the record of job creation in the private sector, as a result of Canada’s wise investments in space technology.

The President of the Canadian Space Agency, Walter Natynczyk, opened the race by wishing the teams good luck and pointing to the significance of the event, “We have representatives here of the leadership of Canada’s space program. In this community here in Toronto, we’ve got great companies that have created incredible innovation that has been launched into space over the years.”

Setting the tone, he added, “Today is a day of discovery; it’s a day of hot competition.”

After the remarks, Hansen read the first clue for his team: “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a dragon by the toe, if it hollers, don’t let it go,”

Once teams deciphered the clue, they had to complete the task. Only once each task was successfully completed would teams receive the next challenge.

A subsequent challenge took the teams to the Department of National Defence’ Department of Research and Development Canada, where the astronauts were put through an obstacle course that is typically used to test new equipment materials.


From there, team Hansen went to York University while team Saint-Jacques was dispatched to Optech.

At those sites, each team was faced with a laser-based challenge connected to the OSIRIS-REx mission, set to launch in September 2016. This task was designed to expose participants to the Canadian technology that will be flying on the mission, designed by Optech to create a 3D map of the surface of an asteroid using lasers.

The last stop on the journey was at the Ontario Science Centre, where the teams went head-to-head to design, build, test, and fly a prototype Mars lander using only house-hold materials that could be found at hand.

“What better than to have real astronauts here trying an experiment that often we have with our visitors,” said Maurice Bitran, CEO of the Ontario Science Centre.

While both teams successfully accomplished the Mars landing challenege, the judges ruled that team Saint-Jacques’ spacecraft made better use of simple machines, propelling them to victory.

Jesse Rogerson, a participant and gracious winner said, “It really doesn’t matter who won. The astronauts were so fun to be around, so as a team, as a group, both teams really did win.”

“Events like this really get the word out and get the public involved,” Rogerson added.

Saint-Jacques explained the involvement of private industry in space will only create more opportunities for Canadians – not only to go to space, but here on Earth.

“You may not realize it, but it’s part of our everyday life,” he said.