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Saint-Jacques' historic space flight inspires future Canadian astronauts

Last Updated Jun 25, 2019 at 6:51 am PST

Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques responds to a question during his last press conference in orbit before returning to Earth on June 24, seen on a giant screen in Saint-Hubert, Que. on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

The space odyssey of David Saint-Jacques has come to an end

After more than six months aboard the ISS, the Canadian astronaut has successfully returned to Earth

Saint-Jacques' record-setting journey aboard the ISS has inspired a number of aspiring astronauts

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The slow path to recovery has begun for Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, who must now re-adjust to Earth’s gravity after more than half a year in space.

The native of Saint-Lambert, Quebec touched down in Kazakhstan Monday night having set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days.

While aboard the International Space Station, the 49-year-old Saint-Jacques took part in a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk, and a “cosmic catch” of SpaceX Dragon cargo using Canadarm2. It was the first time a Canadian astronaut had operated the iconic made-in-Canada device to perform such a feat.

File: Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques is seen on a live monitor from the International Space Station during a video conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Julie Payette and a group of students at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

“I think he’s one of the most influential Canadian heroes — not just Canadian astronauts — but Canadians heroes,” says UBC student Lucas Kuhn.

As a future physics and astronomy major and member of the UBC astronomy club, Kuhn is hoping to one day follow in Saint-Jacques’ footsteps. He was watching on television as the Soyuz capsule touched down last night.

“This is what I want to do. I want to some day be in his position, up in the International Space Station or maybe further, maybe Mars. And I think that knowing someone who is also Canadian, someone who has grown up studying what I’m studying now… it makes me excited to be on that path,” Kuhn says.

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

Ontario-born Jeremy Hansen will be the next Canadian. He will blast off sometime in the coming years.

-With files from Taran Parmar and the Canadian Press