McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Astronaut returns McMaster crest from space

Published: October 31, 2007
Scott Kelly, Dave Williams, Peter George, Barbara Morgan and Alvin Drew
(From left to right) Mission Commander Scott Kelly, Dave Williams, Peter George, Barbara Morgan and Alvin Drew

After completing three historic spacewalks during a space mission in August, Canadian astronaut Dr. Dave Williams touched down in Hamilton yesterday to talk about his "out-of-this world experience" to McMaster faculty and students.

Williams returned both McMaster University and McMaster Centre for Minimal Access Surgery (CMAS) patches that accompanied him during the space mission to University President Peter George and Dr. Mehran Anvari, Johnson & Johnson Chair in Minimally Invasive Surgery and Surgical Innovation, and director of CMAS.

In the session at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Charleton site, Williams was joined by other NASA Endeavour crew members Mission Commander Scott Kelly, Barbara Morgan, and Alvin Drew. The mission team talked about the mission and answered questions in a lively discussion period, that went on through the following reception.

During the flight, Williams spent 17 hours and 47 minutes outside the space station, setting a new record for the most spacewalks and spacewalking time by a Canadian astronaut.

CMAS originally collaborated with the Canadian Space Agency and NASA as part of the underwater NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operation (NEEMO 7) in 2004.  In 2006, they partnered for the 18-day underwater NEEMO 9 Mission, led by Dave Williams. Williams and his crew conducted medical experiments in a simulated space environment off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, using the latest remote surgical technologies and techniques, guided by Anvari in Hamilton. The purpose was to design systems to deal with health issues in space or other remote or confined areas.

In closing the event yesterday, Dave Williams praised McMaster and urged McMaster students to always pursue their dreams and be assured that they have a world class university supporting them.

View NASA video clip Video clip

Also during their Hamilton visit, the astronaut team met with young patients at McMaster Children’s Hospital and students of a local Hamilton school.

The astronauts carried letters from patients at the Children’s Hospital into space with them – each letter containing a child’s dream. Yesterday they returned the letters to their owners. Andrew Izzo, a 12-year-old patient, accepted the letters back on behalf of all the patients, explaining his dreams of becoming a hockey goalie and, if not, prime minister.

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