Julie Payette is an explorer who once traveled six million kilometers in just shy of ten days. She did this as a mission specialist aboard Space Shuttle Discovery in 1999. Her mission was to perform the first manual docking with the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver supplies. She was the first Canadian to participate in an ISS assembly mission and to board ISS. She is awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of her courage to explore new boundaries, for challenging herself, and for trailblazing deeper paths for other women of science to follow.
Born in Montreal, Julie Payette joined the NASA astronaut corps in 1996 and flew two space missions aboard space shuttles Discovery and Endeavour. On Endeavour, in 2009, she again flew to the ISS and operated Canadarm, a robotic arm she guided through delicate maneuvers needed to complete installation of a new laboratory attached to ISS. Ms Payette has logged over 611 hours in space and from 2000 until 2007 she was Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency.
Ms Payette is Knight of the National Order of Quebec and in 2011 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. In January 2011, Ms. Payette accepted a fellowship in public policy at the prestigious Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. In October of the same year, she was named Quebec's Scientific Delegate to promote collaboration and linkages between science and technology institutions in the United States and in Quebec. In the summer of 2013, Ms. Payette will become the Chief Operating Officer of the Montréal Science Centre.
She is a Former Governor-in-Council for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and a Member of l'Ordre des lngenieurs du Quebec and the International Academy of Astronautics. In 1999, she received the NASA Space Flight Medal for her service and achievements; ten years later, she received the award again. In 2001 she was named Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Pleiade de la francophonie, and in 2010 she was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame. She also received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers gave her their highest honour – Engineers Canada Gold Medal.
Ms Payette holds a commercial pilot license and obtained her military pilot captaincy. She is a certified deep-sea diver who is fluent in French and English, and can converse in Spanish, Italian, Russian and German. She plays the piano and has sung with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Piacere Vocale in Basel, Switzerland, and the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto. Her achievements listed in this last paragraph alone would allow others to declare her life one lived well and full. But explorers spill over the average life’s brim; Ms. Payette has lived beyond Earth’s horizons and continually expands her own. She goes forth, cultivating new talents and enriching old ones, all to the betterment of global society. Ms Payette is an adventurer and the University of Manitoba is proud to honour her today.