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Roberta Bondar (Amazing Stories)

Roberta Bondar (Amazing Stories)

The Exceptional Achievements of Canada's First Woman Astronaut

From the age of eight, Roberta Bondar knew she wanted to be an astronaut. In January 1992 she made Canadian history when she became the first Canadian woman, and first neurologist, to go into space on board Discovery. The story of her journey to become a leading astronaut is a fascinating tale of dedication, commitment, and sheer guts.


Roberta Bondar couldn't eat. It wasn't as if she wasn't hungry. Busy and active, she was always hungry. But on this day, Saturday, December 3, 1983, she found food - even a tall, cool glass of her favourite skim milk - unappetizing. A birthday cake was sitting in her kitchen untouched. The family and friends who had gathered to help celebrate her 38th birthday a day early would have to eat it.

Roberta was waiting for a phone call - one that could change her life and fulfil a childhood dream. She and the other 18 finalists for the job she had applied for had been told to expect news this evening. Only six would make the cut.

Roberta was no stranger to competition. As a woman growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, she was used to being told she couldn't or shouldn't be doing what she was doing. But Roberta always proved them wrong. Playing basketball, tennis, and every other sport she could fit into her schedule, she thrived on the adrenaline. The more cerebral challenges came from the four degrees she had earned by the time she was 31. In all aspects of her life, Roberta had always reached for the top and made it - at least, until now.

Would Roberta succeed this time? The job she had applied for was no ordinary job - she wanted to be the first Canadian astronaut in space. Canada was ready to send its own astronauts on the United States' space shuttle, and Roberta was determined to be one of them.

At 6:45 p.m., the phone rang. Taking a deep breath, Roberta reached to grab it. 

About the Author

Joan Dixon writes from the foothills of the Rockies, where she also hikes, skis, and plays all kinds of sports with her family and friends. Her master's degree in Canadian Studies (with a specialization in sport history) and her time at the National Sport and Recreation Centre in Ottawa have helped shape her understanding of sport in Canadian life, while stories of Canada and amazing Canadians have always inspired her research and writing projects. Her most recent book is Made for Canada: the story of Avro's Arrow.

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