Roberta Bondar: Curious Facts On First Canadian Female Astronaut!

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Sep 08, 2022 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Nov 16, 2021
Edited by Sarah Nyamekye
Fact-checked by Niyati Parab
The contributions of Dr. Roberta Bondar to science will blow your mind.

The first Canadian woman astronaut, Dr. Roberta Bondar, is recognized throughout the world for her immense contributions to medicine, research, science, environment, and photography.

Not only is she the first woman Canadian astronaut, but also she is the first neurologist who traveled into space. Dr. Bondar has earned numerous degrees in various subjects from renowned Canadian and American Universities.

Roberta Lynn Bondar was born on December 4 in 1945, in Ontario, Canada. She is considered to be one of the most distinguished astronauts due to her vast knowledge in different subjects.

Graduated in zoology and agriculture from the University of Guelph, she went on to pursue post-graduation in experimental pathology from the famous University of Western Ontario in the year 1971.

After that, in 1974, she got admission into the University of Toronto and earned a doctorate in neurobiology. Upon completion, in 1977, she received an M.D from McMaster University in Ontario.

After years of rigorous medical training in neurology and neuro-ophthalmology, she was appointed to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada in the year 1981.

Her years of studying and training as a medical doctor led her into astronaut training after being chosen as one of the six astronauts of Canada by the Canadian Space Agency in 1984.

Her journey reached countless significant milestones after her space travel.

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Why did Roberta Bondar become an astronaut?

As a child, Roberta always had a fascination for science. She received an extensive education because of her determination to learn new things.

Her father built her a lab in the basement of their house, where little Roberta conducted numerous experiments on her own. Her mother taught her to accomplish all the goals in her life. She indulged her daughter to aspire and volunteer. Roberta was a curious girl since childhood and dreamt of becoming an astronaut in the future.

With utmost determination, she earned several degrees in vast subjects. After completing her education, she was selected for her astronaut training by the Canadian Space Agency. Dr. Bondar was designated the post of payload specialist for the International Microgravity Laboratory Mission or IML-1.

This space shuttle contained a Spacelab module. It was used to conduct several experiments in space and thereby study the effects of zero gravity on living organisms. She was the first neurologist in space who conducted several experiments as a scientist in 1992.

Why did Roberta Bondar go to space?

Dr. Bondar is known for her extensive contribution not just as a neurologist but also for pioneering space medicine research. She possesses a highly distinguished educational background from renowned American Universities and holds her own star on Canada's Walk of fame.

She is the perfect example of a modern Renaissance woman who has excelled in different fields-a doctor, a scientist, astronaut, artist, photographer, and author. Due to her flawless academic in the field of science and research, she was selected for training as an astronaut and was designated as a payload specialist for the space shuttle, Discovery in 1992.

This space shuttle was responsible for conducting several experiments of weightlessness on materials processing and living organisms.

After spending eight days in space and conducting numerous experiments for over 18 countries in the International Microgravity Laboratory in the space shuttle, she returned to Earth with loads of experience and stories to share. She was also responsible for taking photographs of the Earth and other objects in space because of her keen interest in photography.

Her detailed and accurate photography helped reveal Earth's natural environment.

How old was Roberta Bondar when she went to space?

Dr. Bondar was 47 years old when she went to space on January 22, 1992. She conducted several important experiments in the space lab along with six crew members.

Her experiments were on the nervous system, the equilibrium by the inner ear as well as the circulatory system during microgravity.

Her research on the human body and other living organisms in low gravity helped NASA to prepare astronauts for future missions in the space stations, which would require their prolonged stay in space. She is presented with numerous honors, including the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, and the induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

She has also been a renowned motivational speaker for different organizations.

What did Roberta Bondar do after she went to space?

Upon returning from space, Bondar focused on helping out NASA with more research and experiments. She led a team of researchers at NASA and conducted several experiments for more than a decade.

She was responsible for studying the data obtained from astronauts on board. She and her international team of researchers analyzed these data to understand the recovering ability of the body after prolonged exposure to space.

Apart from being a scientist, she is also a great photographer and holds an honors degree in professional nature photography from the renowned Brook's Institute of Photography in California. She published several books on photography which comprises the terrific locations in the world.

Her bestselling books are Passionate Vision: Discovering Canada's National Parks, Landscape of Dreams, Touching the Earth, and the Arid Edge of Earth.

In 2009, she established the Roberta Bondar Foundation, a non-profit charity, which aims at creating awareness on various environmental issues.

Due to her immense dedication at work, she is honored with several awards and tributes, which included the NASA space flight medal, and Canada's Walk of Fame star, and the induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame as well as the International Women's Forum Hall.

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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Fact-checked by Niyati Parab

Bachelor of Commerce

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Niyati ParabBachelor of Commerce

With a background in digital marketing, Niyati brings her expertise to ensure accuracy and authenticity in every piece of content. She has previously written articles for MuseumFacts, a history web magazine, while also handling its digital marketing. In addition to her marketing skills, Niyati is fluent in six languages and has a Commerce degree from Savitribai Phule Pune University. She has also been recognized for her public speaking abilities, holding the position of Vice President of Education at the Toastmasters Club of Pune, where she won several awards and represented the club in writing and speech contests at the area level.

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