Our Club had the honour of a visit and presentation from Canadian Astronaut Dr. Robert (Bob) Thirsk on November 15th.
 
A record turnout of Rotary members and guests at Dundas Valley Golf and Curling Club was accompanied with 24 students with their teachers from eight local schools.
 
Dr Thirsk was introduced by Club member Bob Morrow, who had met Dr Thirsk though  work on the Tomatosphere project.
 
Dr Thirsk is a much honoured Canadian Space Agency Astronaut. He was selected in 1983 for the Canadian Astronaut program and trained for, and participated in, many parts of the Shuttle and International Space Station programs over the next 26 years. He retired from the Agency in 2012 and is currently the Chancellor of the University of Calgary.
 
In 1996 Bob flew as a payload specialist aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-78 and during the 17 day mission he and his six crewmates performed 43 international experiments devoted to life and materials sciences.
We heard about experiments that could only be performed due to zero gravity – making pure semi-conductor crystals – and others that had important impacts on long term space travel. Bones can “demineralize” during space travel, essentially causing osteoporosis, and the astronauts took part in experiments to minimize this. In part, they had to exercise two hours a day to avoid potential bone loss which had potential to cause bone fractures during the rough ride of re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.
 
 
That was just a short trip.
 
In 2009 Bob flew a long duration mission in the International Space station. For 3000 Orbits, over six months, Bob and his five crewmates ate freeze dried food, drank recycled water and slept in a sleeping bag in order to perform an unprecedented amount of multi-disciplinary research and complex robotic operations.
 
We were all impressed with the fantastic amount of continuous learning that Dr Thirsk undertook through this intense period. He must have inspired the students who were present. They were given the opportunity to question him on his education, his ambition, his emotions, and his appreciation of Star Trek.
 
Dr Thirsk was thanked by our own Dr Phil Wood (not an astronaut) and presented  with a gear wheel from the Canadarm as a memory of his visit to our Club.
 
 
 
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