Astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth, sets Canadian space record

Native of Saint-Lambert, Que., set a record for longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days

David Saint-Jacques returned to Earth on Monday after more than six months aboard the International Space Station.

The native of Saint-Lambert, Que., has set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days.

The Canadian astronaut was joined by NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko aboard a Soyuz capsule that landed in Kazakhstan.

Saint-Jacques’ mission began ahead of schedule on Dec. 3, when he was part of the first crewed Soyuz mission following a rocket mishap in October that forced a spacecraft carrying two astronauts to abort and make an emergency landing.

Saint-Jacques, 49, took part in a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk in April and a “cosmic catch” of SpaceX Dragon cargo using Canadarm2 — the first time a Canadian astronaut has operated the robotic arm to perform the feat.

The engineer, astrophysicist and family doctor also oversaw science experiments and had numerous discussions with kids across the country during his mission.

ALSO READ: Astronaut David Saint-Jacques joins select group, just fourth Canadian to perform spacewalk

In his final days of the flight, Saint-Jacques said he was refamiliarizing himself with the Soyuz craft that had been parked for the duration of their stay and took them home starting Monday afternoon. He tweeted over the weekend the craft was in fine form despite being parked for six months.

“It will take a few hours but we’ll fall back to Earth — literally,” Saint-Jacques explained to reporters last week. “After crossing into Earth’s atmosphere, the parachutes will open, we’ll land in Kazakhstan and be picked up by Russian team and taken to the airport where we’ll return to Houston to be reunited with our families.”

When the crew established contact with the search-and-recovery forces right before landing they said they were doing well.

NASA described the landing as “picture perfect” as the capsule descended in Kazakhstan at 10:47 p.m. ET.

Saint-Jacques was the last to be carried out of the capsule and he gave a thumbs-up as he emerged.

The crew was offered water and fresh fruit as they sat in chairs about four metres away from the capsule before being taken away for initial medical checks.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette welcomed the astronaut back to Earth. In a tweet she said: “We are so glad that you are safely back. Congratulations on a remarkable job on board he International Space Station (ISS) during six months. 204 days in space. Well done.”

Saint-Jacques, who is married and has three young children, earlier said he was looking forward to seeing his family again.

He’d told reporters he was aware of the physical challenges that await him after six months in zero gravity, which include blood circulation problems, muscle pains and an elongated spine that will return to normal. It could mean trouble walking and moving around for a while.

Saint-Jacques’ recovery is first and foremost on the minds of Canadian Space Agency officials.

“A big aspect for us here at the agency is to prepare his return in the next few weeks — rehabilitation, physical reconditioning, adapting back to life at 1G,” said Gilles Leclerc, the agency’s director of space exploration.

Saint-Jacques is expected to take part in a news conference on Friday from Houston and will return to Canada in mid-July to visit the agency, just south of Montreal.

As for the next mission, Leclerc said negotiations are underway to have another member of the corps serve aboard the International Space Station before 2024.

— By Hina Alam in Vancouver and Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Wet’suwet’en clan launches civil lawsuit against Coastal GasLink

Gidimt’en seeking damages and costs over destruction of logging road encampment and gate

Canfor looking at possible repurposing of Vavenby sawmill site

Company open to suggestions on what the site could be used for

Lacarya ladies golf report for July 10

Weather gods kindly provided a dry afternoon so 15 ladies could play at Lacarya Golf Course

NDP candidate wants to make communities more affordable

Gina Myhill-Jones also counts rich volunteer experience as an asset to her potential as a politician

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

BC Cancer Agency refuses to release audit’s critical findings, but discloses ‘positive’ findings

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions of cancer agency’s triage audit

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

Countdown starts to 2020 BC Summer Games

Two flags unveiled at Maple Ridge city hall.

Memorial bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in park for now

Park board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Weather Network’s anti-meat video ‘doesn’t reflect true story’: cattle ranchers

At issue is the video’s suggestion that cutting back on meat consumption could help save the planet

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Most Read