Julie Payette is an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency. Before she joined the Canadian space program in 1992, Julie worked as a computer engineer doing research in speech processing and understanding natural language. In addition to her astronaut training schedule, she participates in the development of the Mobile Servicing System for the International Space Station. She is a technical adviser for the design of its ground-control station, and she manages several projects designing advanced operator-machine interfaces for use in space.
According to Julie, "To be granted the opportunity, one day, to work while orbiting the Earth, to contribute to the pursuit of scientific knowledge, and to be able to see our world from above is an extraordinary privilege. I look forward to being in space and to the chance to fly aboard the most sophisticated vehicle ever designed. Most of all, I look forward to experiencing for myself that indeed, from orbit, you can't see political borders, but in a truly global fashion, you can help monitor and preserve our beautiful planet (our only home) for everyone."
In 1980, at the age of 16, Julie received one of six Canadian scholarships to attend the United World International College of the Atlantic in South Wales, UK. "Atlantic College helped open my mind and broaden my horizons. I met people from all over the world and shared incredible experiences. My two years in Wales positively shaped the person I have become, and I am still driven by the ideals of the college: dedication to learning, understanding between nations, and commitment to community service."
After her scholarship in the UK, Julie attended McGill University in Montreal where she received a bachelor of electrical engineering degree and many awards. Following that, she worked as a technical adviser for IBM Canada, supporting activities involving advanced UNIX workstations, vector processing applications, and other science and engineering products.
In 1988, Julie began graduate school at the University of Toronto, where she became involved in high-performance computer architecture projects and worked part time as a teaching assistant. After receiving her master of applied science degree, she worked for a year as a visiting scientist in the Communications and Computer Science Department of the IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich, Switzerland before returning to Montreal to join the Speech Research group of Bell-Northern Research. She is now working toward a doctoral degree in electrical engineering at McGill University. Her research topic is entitled "Voice Control of Non-critical Systems in Space."
As part of her training as an astronaut, Julie became a pilot and holds a multi-engine commercial license. She is also an active member of the 99s, an international women pilots' organization.
Julie's interests include running, skiing, playing racquet sports, scuba diving, and competing in triathlons. She is a trained pianist and regularly sings as a soprano with early music ensembles. She also speaks French, English, and Italian, can converse in Spanish and German, and is learning Russian. Julie is married to a university professor who shares her passion for sports.