media release

Canadian astronaut to receive honour

June 10, 2011
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Contact:
Dixon Tam, SFU PAMR, 778.782.8742, dixont@sfu.ca

Robert Thirsk
Photo on Flickr

Robert Thirsk, a New Westminster-born engineer, physician and Canadian Space Agency astronaut, will be recognized with an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University next week.

He’s the owner of Canadian records for longest spaceflight (187 days, 20 hours) and time in space (204 days, 18 hours).

In 1983, he was selected as one of the first six members of the Canadian astronaut program. He was a payload specialist in 1996 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia during STS-78, the second longest mission in the history of shuttle flights (17 days).

In 2009, he was part of a six-person crew living and working on the space station for six months, serving as the crew's medical officer and robotics specialist.

Thirsk also led an international research team that developed an experimental anti-gravity suit that may help astronauts better withstand the effects of weightlessness on extended spaceflights. And he has helped develop space-related educational programs such as Canolab, Space for Species and Tomatosphere that let kids experience the thrill of scientific discovery.

Thirsk holds bachelor and master of science degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Calgary (1976) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, 1978), respectively, an M.D. from McGill University (1982) and an MBA from MIT (1998).

An honorary degree will be conferred on Thirsk on June 15 at the 2:30 p.m. convocation ceremony on the Burnaby campus.

SFU will confer honorary degrees on five others, including songstress Sarah McLachlan, sportscaster Brian Williams, McDonald’s Canada founder George Cohon, molecular biologist Pavel Pevzner and former Vancouver city planner Ray Spaxman.

SFU will also invest its 10th chancellor, Carole Taylor, at its June 17 2:30 p.m. ceremony.

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