Dr. Robert (Bob) Thirsk was born and raised in western Canada. He received degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Calgary and from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Bob also holds a Doctorate of Medicine from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Bob was selected as a member of the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut corps in 1983.  During a 28-year career, Bob received training on space shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) systems and developed skills in spacewalking, robotic operations and Russian language.  He served as crew commander for two space mission simulations: the seven-day CAPSULS mission in 1994, and the 11-day NEEMO 7 undersea mission in 2004.  He served as backup astronaut on two space missions – a 1984 space shuttle mission and a 2005 Soyuz mission to the ISS.

In 1996 Bob flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia with six international crewmates as part of the Life and Microgravity Spacelab Mission.  This 17-day mission was devoted to the study of life and materials sciences.

In 2009 Bob launched aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station. As members of the ISS Expedition 20/21 crew, Bob and his crewmates performed cutting-edge interdisciplinary research from around the world, robotic operations, and maintenance and repair work of Station systems and experiments. Upon return to Earth, Bob had lived and worked in space for another 188 days.

Bob is a strong promoter of a national economy based upon exploration and innovation. He takes every opportunity to encourage youth to work outside of their comfort zones, to participate in collaborative team-oriented ventures, and to pursue audacious dreams. He recommends that these dreams be built upon a solid foundation of advanced skills and lifelong learning.

Bob proudly served as Chancellor of the University of Calgary from 2014-18. He is a member of the Order of British Columbia and an Officer of the Order of Canada. Robert Thirsk High School in Calgary is named in his honour. He has received several honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Laws from his home institution The University of Calgary. The degree was conferred while he was in orbit aboard the International Space Station!



5 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello Robert,

    I think that we are from same family.

    My fathers father and your mothers father was brothers.

    I think his name was Peter. (Pelle)

    His lastname was Jansson.


    Karl-Anders Jansson



  2. Hello,

    Today (March 9th 2016) I had the honor to meet you at Ryerson University. I would like you to know that meeting you was certainly an infuelncial experience. When I saw a picture of you in space on the projector and you talking about that picture at the same time, I felt something I find very difficult to explain but it made me want to go back to the drawing board and change some of my plans for the future. Thank you for coming to our university.

    Hope to see you again,

  3. I had the pleasure of knowing you from 1978-79, while you were attending McGill University for medical school. I was a teacher at the time and went on to law school. I was hoping I could extend a message to you. My email is above. You were an inspiration to me when I was in my 20s and I am very grateful that I got to know you. Congratulations to you and your family for your wonderful achievements. So nice you have returned to Canada to inspire future generations of scientists. Sincerely, ann ( Preppie)

  4. Dear Robert Thirsk :

    My name is Annemarie I am a grade 9 student living in Canada. I would like to ask you some questions regarding the topic of outer space in hopes of your reply for my year end final Language Arts assignment.

    During my spring break holiday, I had the opportunity to visit the John Kennedy Space Center in Florida. My experience there had undoubtedly enlarged a fragment of an interest in outer space from previously reading an intriguing novel about space to blowing my expectations out of the water. I was able to learn things about space I could never learn in a textbook or on Google. Seeing how the experience and expertise of individuals like you has influenced humanity in which we are able to travel outside of earth is astonishing and has had a significant impact on myself and for setting high achieving goals. A highlight for me when visiting the center was seeing how Canada has influenced space travel as well as the engineering and science inventions made by Canadians like the Canadarm. You especially have become a figure in Canadian history for space travel for your accomplishments and an inspiring figure in which I look up too. Since then, it has opened up a door of opportunity for me to have an interest in the mysterious vastness of space as well as a passion for a future possible occupation.

    I feel it is appropriate to ask you the following questions, because you have had an amazing first hand look at outer space and its wondrous possibilities unlike anyone I know. Your dedicated work to accomplish what you have has sparked my interest in space to a degree unlike I have ever been captivated by before. The following questions will be used as the interview for my Language Arts assignment and the answers will be copied word for word. Please feel free to answer these questions as truthfully long or short as you would like.

    1. If you had the opportunity to travel to Mars and survive similar to the novel The Martian , would you or would you not and why?

    2. What scares you the most about space?

    3. If you could use one word to describe outer space what would it be and why?

    4. Do you believe in the next decade, humanity will travel to Mars or past the Moon and why?

    5. What do you enjoy most about space?

    6. What made you want to be an astronaut and drove your interest about the topic of space?

    7. Do you believe in Aliens?

    I would sincerely like to thank you for your dedicated time and energy for reading and answering these questions. Once again I’d like to thank you and look forward to your reply and feature in my year end Language Arts assignment.

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