Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that Julie Payette will be Canada’s next governor general. Payette is a former astronaut, a pianist, an orchestra singer, and, let’s face it, a total badass. Here’s why.
She can speak six languages.
Payette was the first French Canadian woman in space, but she can converse in six languages in total: French, English, Spanish, Italian, Russian and German.
She was Canada’s second female astronaut.
The Canadian Space Agency selected Payette and three others out of 5,330 applicants in 1992. She participated in two missions to the International Space Station in 1999 (STS-96) and 2009 (STS-127), and has recorded a total of 611 hours in orbit.
She was the first woman to work as lead communicator at the Mission Control Center.
From 2000 to 2007, Payette was the Canadian Space Agency’s chief astronaut. She worked as a capsule communicator (CAPCOM) at Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, and was the lead CAPCOM for space shuttle mission STS-121 in 2006. CAPCOM handles communication between ground controllers and astronauts in space.
She has 21 degrees.
Payette has an international baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales, UK, a bachelor of engineering, electrical cum laude from McGill University and a master of applied science — computer engineering from the University of Toronto. She has since received 18 honorary degrees from universities around Canada.
She will be Canada’s fourth female governor general.
Traditionally, the governor general alternates between a Francophone and an Anglophone and Payette’s appointment will keep with that as she will follow David Johnston.
She was awarded the Order of Canada in 2010.
Payette is an international ambassador for Canadian engineering. She was the first Canadian to board the International Space Station and to work on its assembly using the Canadian robotics arm, according to The Governor General of Canada website.
She serves as a board member for Drug Free Kids Canada and Own the Podium.
Drug Free Kids Canada works to ensure that young people live free of drug or alcohol abuse. Own the Podium aims to make Canada a world leader in high performance sport at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
She has a commercial pilot’s license and is certified as a deep-sea diving suit operator.
Many astronauts have commercial pilot licenses, but Payette’s includes a float rating. She is certified as a one-atmosphere, deep-sea diving suit operator.