Canadian Space Agency astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk has announced his plans to leave the agency in August 2012. He is a veteran of two spaceflights including Canada's first long-duration mission aboard the International Space Station.
"We salute Dr. Thirsk and his contributions to the Canadian space program as an accomplished and dedicated member of the astronaut corps," said CSA President Steve MacLean. "Over a span of three decades, Robert has contributed to bringing science to the forefront of our space exploration initiatives. We wish him the very best in his new endeavour."
Above: Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk poses for a photo in the Harmony node of the International Space Station.
Dr. Thirsk has been appointed to the position of Vice-President - Public, Government and Institute Affairs of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, effective August 2012, where he'll direct all matters related to strategic relations, public and private sector partnerships, communication and public outreach.
One of the original six Canadian astronauts, Robert Thirsk joined the Canadian Astronaut Program in 1983.
Thirsk first flew in 1996 on space shuttle Columbia on the 17-day Life and Microgravity Spacelab mission.
In 2009, he launched aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and became the first Canadian astronaut to complete a long-duration expedition. As a member of the ISS Expedition 20/21 crew, he and his international crewmates performed multidisciplinary research, robotic operations, maintenance and repair work of Station systems and payloads.