A Most Extraordinary Ride

Space, Politics, and the Pursuit of a Canadian Dream

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About A Most Extraordinary Ride:

A captivating and inspiring memoir by Canada’s first man in space.

On October 5th, 1984, Marc Garneau made history. Blasting off from the Kennedy Space Center aboard the U.S. Space Shuttle and reaching a speed of 28,000 km/hour, he became the first Canadian to fly to outer space. That monumental achievement, now etched in Canadian history as one of our country’s proudest moments, inspired a nation and ushered in a new era of space exploration for Canada. Twenty-four years later, Garneau made history yet again, becoming the first astronaut to be elected as a Member of Parliament.

In between those two milestones in Garneau’s unprecedented career, he was the first Canadian, and the first non-American, to serve as CAPCOM, the voice of Mission Control for the astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle. In the years that followed his historic first voyage to space, Garneau returned to space two more times, becoming the first Canadian to log three trips into orbit, and led the Canadian Space Agency through its most dynamic years.

In the House of Commons, Garneau would ultimately serve in two cabinet posts as Minister of Transport and Minister of Foreign Affairs during some of the biggest events of the past decade: the onset of one of the worst pandemics in modern times; the arbitrary detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor by China; the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban; and the death of 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents aboard Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752, shot down by Iran.

It was no surprise, then, that when Marc Garneau announced his retirement after fourteen years in government, many Canadians lamented the loss of an upstanding parliamentarian who was not afraid to speak up for causes he believed in, even if that meant bucking his own party and its leader.

In A Most Extraordinary Ride: Space, Politics, and the Pursuit of a Canadian Dream, Garneau chronicles his once-improbable ascent from a mischievous teenager and rebellious naval midshipman to a decorated astronaut and statesman who represented Canada on the world stage – both on and off the planet. With candour and humour, Garneau describes the highs and lows of his life and career, including the awe he experienced first seeing the earth from space, the tragic loss of his first wife to mental illness and suicide, sailing across the Atlantic and back in a sailboat called “the Pickle,” and witnessing the tragedy of the doomed shuttle Challenger.

Honest and illuminating, A Most Extraordinary Ride is a rare journey into the early years of Canada’s space program and an inside account of the joys and challenges of governing from one of Canada’s most distinguished citizens.

About the Author(s):

MARC GARNEAU has distinguished himself in three distinct fields. As a naval officer with the Canadian Armed Forces, he spent 10 years as a combat systems engineer. In 1984, Garneau became the first Canadian astronaut to go to space and, from 2001 to 2005, was president of the Canadian Space Agency. As a federal politician, he has served as Liberal house leader, Minister of Transport and Minister of Foreign affairs. He lives in Montreal with his wife, and has four children.