Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut July 16, 1999 - 8:29 am

Astronauts charm Iqaluit


IQALUIT — Canadian astronaut Julie Payette, and Kent Rominger, mission commander of the space shuttle Discovery charmed Iqaluit residents during Nunavut Day festivities last week.

Seeing the planet Earth from space — “its gemstone colours, the contrast of black and while, the shadows” — was the astronauts’ biggest thrill, and one that they shared with a capacity crowd at Iqaluit’s Astro Theatre last week.

The five members of the STS-96 crew who flew aboard the Space Shuttle Disovery from May 27 to June 6 showed a video, discussed slides and answered questions from a curious audience.

The crew members also revealed the pleasures of flying through the cramped corridors of the international space station that they were helping to build. They talked about the challenges of sleeping in cocoon-like bags at night and eating pre-packaged foods.

Payette and her fellow astronauts urged young people to think seriously about a career in space and pursue advanced scientific studies.

There are now 106 astronauts working with the National Space Agency in Houston, Texas. Seven are Canadians. More are recruited, but only every 10 years, but Canadian astronaut Julie Payette said that she was sure there would be more opportunities in the future.

Reflecting on their presence at the ceremonies, Sheila Watt-Cloutier from the Inuit Circumpolar Conference remembered how as a child, she had travelled by dog team.

“In such a short time, we’ve come from the Ice Age to the Space Age,” Watt-Cloutier said.

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