By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – The Canadian Space Agency says president Steve MacLean is stepping down.
MONTREAL – The Canadian Space Agency says president Steve MacLean is stepping down.
MacLean has announced plans to leave on Feb. 1 to assume a position in a new venture to be created by Mike Lazaridis, the former CEO and co-founder of Research In Motion.
“During his tenure as president, he was devoted as an accomplished physicist, astronaut and administrator to advancing the Canadian Space Program,” the agency said of MacLean in a statement.
Federal Industry Minister Christan Paradis thanked MacLean for his commitment to public service and to his efforts in advocating the value of space technology and exploration.
“Over his impressive career, Dr. MacLean has made significant contributions to Canada’s leadership role in space,” Paradis said in a statement. “As one of Canada’s most accomplished astronauts and as president of the Canadian Space Agency, he has supported space innovation and demonstrated his passion for science literacy.
“I want to personally thank him for his dedicated work and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
Several sources told The Canadian Press that the former Canadian astronaut would go work for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont., which was founded by Lazaridis.
But later Tuesday, a spokesman for institute said MacLean would be working for a new venture involving many groups tied to quantum physics in Waterloo. John Matlock added that the Perimeter Institute was part of the “innovation ecosystem” in the region.
The institute, which describes itself as a major centre for theoretical physics research, also issued a statement saying it was pleased the technology cluster in the Waterloo area had attracted someone of MacLean’s calibre.
“We look forward to collaborating with him and other partners who are building the Quantum Valley,” the statement added.
The space agency said in a news release on Tuesday that MacLean will lead a team pursuing breakthrough scientific research and development in the highly specialized field of quantum physics.
He was appointed president of the space agency in 2008 and his mandate was set to expire this coming September.
One of the original six Canadian astronauts, MacLean joined the Canadian Astronaut Program in 1983.
The accomplished physicist flew on Space Shuttle Columbia as a payload specialist in 1992.
MacLean, who is married with three children, went into space for a second time in 2006 when he worked on assembly of the International Space Station.
By David Newland - Monday, August 27, 2012 at 4:08 PM - 0 Comments
We’re moving from ‘the Eagle has landed’ to ‘the Eagle will never return’
People love conspiracy theories. I mean, they are very attractive. But it was never a concern to me, because I know that one day, somebody’s going to go and fly back up there, and pick up that camera that I left.
For the record, and with deep respect to the late and thoroughly admirable Neil Armstrong, I don’t doubt he went to the moon. The evidence is overwhelming. But the death of the first man on the moon brings the moon landing itself one giant step closer to the realm of pure myth.
After all, Armstrong was the first of only twelve human beings to have walked the lunar surface. There are just eight astronauts alive today who have been to the moon, and they were all born in the 1930s. You do the math: the list of eyewitnesses to the thin sliver of history in which humans went to the moon is shrinking.
On the other hand, so are the claims the moon landings were hoaxed: recent photographs that clearly show astronaut tracks on the lunar surface along with landing modules ought to silence some of the remaining die-hard skeptics. For now, that is, and as long as our technology keeps pace with our collective doubts.
Still, as I’ve noted elsewhere, facts are limited; questions are endless. Who knows what our descendents will believe, sight unseen, on hand-me-down evidence about the exploits of legendary ancestors?
Thus the moon landing moves from fact, to memory, to myth; a myth being a story, which may or may not have its roots in fact, by which a given people lives.
Myth-making, of course, was what America’s political brain trust had in mind when President Kennedy announced the goal of going to the moon in the first place, saying “space is there, and we’re going to climb it.” Kennedy’s men wanted to create a greater story for the American people, one that would inspire them literally to greater heights—and put the lie to the great myth being promulgated by the Soviets, who at that point were well ahead in the space race.
Neil Armstrong’s small step made the point irrevocably; the mighty American myth was at its apex when Armstrong stepped off the lunar lander ladder into moon dust. The impression remains, though Armstrong’s trudge through history is complete.
So the moon landing has always been part news story, part myth. But now there’s little in the way of new news, in the moon myth department—aside from the deaths of the only men who have ever been there.
The mythic space race (featuring rockets named for Greek gods) between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union has pretty much been run. The space shuttles are forever grounded; the International Space Station, for all its collectivist merits, orbits the Earth, barely at the edge of space. Astronauts of all nations hitch rides to the ISS on Russian Soyuz rockets. Mars is being explored by robot rovers; a human Mars mission is a dream at best.
Neil Armstrong, a practical, affable and humble man, personified such a dream for a generation. He was a truly great American, and now he’s gone. As for the moon, the eternal subject of the dreamer’s gaze… well, the moon is what it’s always been: empty, devoid of atmosphere, and very, very far away. Over 384,000 kilometres away, more than a thousand times the distance to the ISS.
Chances are pretty good that we’re not going back. The technology is there; the justification, not so much—let alone the financing. And the will? Imagine President Obama, or President Romney announcing a mission to the moon early into the new presidency? In a U.S.A. where millions of Americans still struggle with catastrophic debt, displacement, natural disasters, environmental catastrophe, an overstretched military and an increasingly polarized body politic? Without the Red Menace to spur the nation to action, it’s just hard to fathom now.
And if not now, when?
The lunar sands don’t shift, but a nation’s stories do. A generation after Apollo 11, the winds of change have drifted the moon landing myth all over the place. Even in its time the trip to the moon was far from universally appreciated: Gil Scott-Heron, in Whitey on the Moon, saw the effort as white America’s ultimate act of unconcern, and W.H. Auden, in Moon Landing lamented a “phallic triumph.” Still, for a time a consensus prevailed that putting a man on the moon was a heck of a great thing.
By the early eighties, Bob Dylan, in License to Kill, could construe the moon landing as the first step toward man’s doom. Today, that attitude is increasingly common, as social, political, economic and environmental challenges here on Earth draw our eyes away from the heavens again.
From triumph, to hubris, to today’s fading memory: we’re moving from “the Eagle has landed” to “the Eagle will never return.” A future moon mission isn’t even on NASA’s list.
Where once the Russians challenged America’s notion of its own supremacy, today it’s the Chinese. There is constant speculation that China may launch a moon mission at some point; if so, their reasons for doing this will be much like those that spurred the Space Race between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.
The practical value may be negligible; the cost will certainly be astronomical. But the symbolic significance will be incalculable. A Chinese mission to the moon would ensconce a new myth in the firmament, a story to propel another people’s progress. Whatever the practicalities, putting a person on the moon will always be a lofty achievement. And China may have an easier time funneling resources toward such a goal than America ever will again.
Perhaps they’ll succeed, in the next decade or two. But I’m willing to bet the next footsteps on the moon, just like first ones, will trail off pretty quickly. Perhaps a century from now, well into the era of Chinese ascendancy, the first of the Chinese moon explorers will pass away, as Neil Armstrong has now done, leaving another generation to ponder humankind’s heavenly potential—and its earthly limitations.
The moon will, of course, remain what it’s always been: empty, devoid of atmosphere, and very, very far away. But compelling, as ever, to the dreamer: the stuff of which myths are made.
By Blog of Lists - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 5:28 PM - 0 Comments
In the early days of space travel, everyone who’d ever left the Earth was a legend. Today, with hundreds having made it into orbit, most Canadians can likely name but a few astronauts. Here’s our list.
1. Yuri Gagarin. Technically a cosmonaut, Gagarin, a Russian, was the first man in space, orbiting the Earth on April 12 of 1961. The achievement was highly symbolic at the height of the Cold War, in the early years of the space race. Gagarin became an international celebrity as a result. Despite his extraordinary achievements, it may have been his short stature (5′ 2″) that ultimately earned him a spot in the tiny cockpit of the first manned flight to space.
2. John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. He later became the oldest person to fly in space, at age 77, aboard space shuttle Discovery in 1998. Glenn was a Democratic senator for 25 years.
3. Neil Armstrong may be the most famous astronaut of all, as the first man to step foot on the moon, and the speaker of the phrases “The Eagle has landed” and “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. The latter sentence as rendered is a contradiction, leading to much discussion about whether Armstrong actually said “a man“‘.
4. Alan B. Sheppard became the second man in space—and the first American—aboard Mercury mission MR-3, on May 5, 1961. Later, he returned to space as commander of Apollo 14, the third U.S. mission to the moon. Shepard piloted the lunar module and famously hit two golf balls on the lunar surface.
5. Buzz Aldrin piloted the lunar module for the Apollo 11 mission and followed Neil Armstrong from the lander to the lunar surface, making him the second man to set foot on the moon. It was his second space flight, after Gemini 12.
6. Marc Garneau became Canada’s first man in space on mission STS 41-G, the first to carry an IMAX camera. Garneau flew a total of three space missions and was later the president of the Canadian Space Agency. He is currently a Liberal member of parliament for Westmount—Ville-Marie.
7. Roberta Bondar. Physician, scientist, photographer, author and educator Roberta Bondar became Canada’s first woman astronaut when she flew aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1992. Bondar was the Payload Specialist for that mission, which was the first to perform laboratory experiments in space. She has since published popular coffee table books of her landscape photographs.
8. Chris Hadfield. Garneau was the first Canadian to fly in space, but Chris Hadfield (pictured above) was the first Canadian to walk in space, and likely the first to play and sing a Gordon Lightfoot song in space. He has been CAPCOM, or capsule communicator, for several space missions and will be the first Canadian to command the International Space Station in 2012-13.
9. Sally Ride, who died in July of 2012 of pancreatic cancer, became the first American woman in space when she flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. She flew to space again in 1984, on the same crew with Marc Garneau. She later was a member of the boards of inquiry into the loss of both the Challenger and the Columbia shuttles.
10. Christa McAuliffe. Technically considered a ‘spaceflight participant’ rather than an astronaut, Christa McAuliffe was scheduled to travel aboard the space shuttle Challenger as a teacher. The shuttle disintegrated shortly after launch, and she was killed along with the rest of the crew.
11. Laika began her short life as a stray dog in Russia in 1954, and ended it as a canine cosmonaut in 1957. Laika went into orbit aboard Sputnik 2, proving a living creature could survive launch and weightlessness. But as no re-entry technology had yet been developed, she was doomed to die in space. A dog gone shame.
12. Ham, a chimpanzee, got off a little better than Laika. For one thing, Ham survived his flight aboard Project Mercury mission MR-2 and lived into the early ’80s. Ham was named No. 65 until he returned to earth successfully, reportedly because American officials didn’t want the bad press that might accompany the death of a ‘named’ chimp in case of an unsuccessful mission.
13. Buzz Lightyear. He never went to the moon, but the fictional character popularized by the Toy Story films was voted #1 among the Top 20 Greatest Pixar characters, and is probably the best-known ‘astronaut’ among children today. NASA even hosts a Buzz Lightyear game on its website.
14. Guy LaLiberte. The billionaire Cirque du Soleil founder and CEO is a former accordion player, stilt walker, and fire-eater who in 2009 became Canada’s first ‘space tourist.’ This may exclude him from the official designation ‘astronaut’ but his trip, dedicated to raising awareness of water issues on Earth, was the first ‘poetic social mission‘ in space.
Have you ever wondered which cities have the most bars, smokers, absentee workers and people searching for love? What about how Canada compares to the world in terms of the size of its military, the size of our houses and the number of cars we own? The nswers to all those questions, and many more, can be found in the first ever Maclean’s Book of Lists.
Buy your copy of the Maclean’s Book of Lists at the newsstand or order online now.
By macleans.ca - Monday, April 11, 2011 at 10:49 AM - 2 Comments
Farmworker’s son was the first human in space
April 12 will mark the 50th anniversary of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic 108-minute flight into space, in which he completed a single Earth orbit, sparking a space race with the United States and becoming an international hero. Even so, Russia has felt it necessary to released top-secret documents to fight rumours that Gagarin was murdered by Soviet rulers, Reuters reports. Today, in Russia’s Star City, the world’s oldest space-flight training centre, still looks in some ways like a shrine to Gagarin, who died in a plane crash just seven years after his flight. A mural of Gagarin, who completed the space flight at age 27, leads into a museum filled with artifacts like his orange-brown space suit, gifts from dignitaries, and a recreation of his office. One photo shows his orbiter, scorched from the landing, lying in a Russian field, where he was famously offered milk and bread by a farmworker upon landing. Conspiracy theorists have said Gagarin was murdered on the orders of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, but last week, the government declassified its archives to show Gagarin probably lost control of his jet after swerving to avoid a weather balloon.
Every time you boil a peanut, a kitten dies: Enjoying every other bit of the Fourthtivities in Ottawa
By kadyomalley - Friday, July 4, 2008 at 4:15 PM - 0 Comments
3:53:18 PM …
You know, I’ve never celebrated Canada Day abroad in an ambassadorial setting,
You know, I’ve never celebrated Canada Day abroad in an ambassadorial setting, but you’d have to go a pretty long way to beat this party, as far as I can tell—and it’s barely even begun. The guests are streaming in, many in red and white, some in… those hats, the little straw ones, with striped ribbons. What do you call those? Those, anyway. Lots and lots of uniforms, but also denim and cotton and really, just a lovely, happy crowd.
Also, the food tents are slowly but surely starting to serve food, and the wine is already flowing, so it’s not exactly a hardship to wait around for the show.
No, I haven’t abandoned you, although I’ll cop to a fact-finding mission to the pulled pork tent. Which, incidentally, was delicious, and highly informative. Now I’m trying to track down a civvie-fied Rick Hillier, who is apparently here in a suit, making it possibly the first time any of us have seen him sans uniform. I mean, not that he’s naked, but you know what I mean.