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Former IBM researcher returns safely from space

Canadian astronaut Julie Payette returned safely from space on July 31 after completing her second mission in the NASA space shuttle program. The space shuttle Endeavour safely landed at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at 16:48 CET on July 31, 2009, in near perfect weather conditions.

On this 16 day flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, Julie was both the flight engineer of the spacecraft, as well as the mission specialist in charge of operating the main robotic arm during the spacewalks around the International Space Station.

Julie, a Montreal native, worked in 1991 as a Visiting Scientist in the Communications Science Department of IBM Research – Zurich. Trained as a computer scientist, she had worked as a system engineer with IBM Canada from 1986 to 1988. Several long-time Zurich Lab staffers recall Julie as being very bright, energetic, and clear in her opinions and goals. She was very popular with her colleagues.

In June 1992, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) selected Julie from 5,330 applicants to become one of four astronauts. She was Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency from 2000 to 2007. Her first visit to space took place in 1999 when she flew on STS-96 and logged over 465 hours in flight.

She is a trained pilot, speaks six languages, and is married with two children.

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