OTD: Bondar becomes Canada’s first female astronaut

On today’s date in 1992, Dr. Roberta Bondar became Canada’s first female astronaut to venture out into space.

Bondar was only Canada’s second astronaut in space (after Marc Garneau) when she participated in the first International Microgravity Laboratory (IML)-I mission on board Space Shuttle Discovery, according to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the organization that oversees Canada’s space program and fuels the nation’s space industry.

“The laboratory was used on several shuttle flights, including but not limited to the IML series of missions,” reads the CSA website. “Spacelab is a fully equipped space laboratory developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) as its contribution to the Space shuttle Program. Spacelab has been used in previous shuttle flights, and will be used for the IML series as well as other scientific missions.”

Bondar was also the first neurologist in space and is an officer of the Order of Canada. For her pioneering space research, she has been elected to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

The stamps were issued in panes of eight (SC #1999).

STS-042 MISSION

A CSA mission specialist born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Bondar blasted into space from the Kennedy Space Center on an eight-day flight aboard the shuttle Discovery with six other astronauts.

“The STS-042 Mission featured experiments that focused on physiological changes in the weightless environment,” explains the CSA website. “Subjects of study included: eye motion and the inner ear; the elongation of the spine and back pain; energy expenditure during a spaceflight; the nervous system and changes in the balance system; the separation of certain kinds of molecules and cells from complex mixtures; and finally, the after-effects of spaceflight.”

2003 BONDAR STAMP

Two official first-day covers were cancelled in Saint-Hubert, Qué.

In 2003, Canada Post issued eight domestic-rate (48 cents) self-adhesive stamps (Scott #1999) as a unique stamp pane, each depicting one of our astronauts that have flown in space, to honour the achievements of Canadian astronauts and the space program that has made their work possible.

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 CSA 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.

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