She gained experience in computer research activities, particularly in natural language processing, automatic speech recognition, and the application of interactive technologies in space.
Julie Payette, astronaut (b at Montréal 20 Oct 1963). After receiving an International Baccalaureate (1982) from the United World International College of the Atlantic in South Wales, UK, she earned a Bachelor in electrical engineering from McGill (1986) and a Master of applied science from the University of Toronto (1990).
She gained experience in computer research activities, particularly in natural language processing, automatic speech recognition, and the application of interactive technologies in space. From 1986 to 1988, Julie Payette worked as an engineer at IBM Canada, and from 1988 to 1990, she was involved in a project on high performance computer architecture. In 1991, she was a visiting scientist at IBM's Communications and Computer Science Research Laboratory in Zurich, Switzerland. On returning to Canada in January 1992, Julie Payette joined the Speech Research group at Bell-Northern Research in Montréal.
Selected as an astronaut by the Canadian Space Agency in June 1992, Julie Payette received her initial training in Canada, and once this basic training was complete, she worked as technical advisor for the Mobile Servicing System (MSS), on the robotic system that made up Canada's contribution to the International Space Station. In 1993, she founded the Human Computer Interaction Group and was a technical specialist for the International Research Studies Group (RSG-10) on speech recognition for NATO (1993 to 1996).
In preparation for the space mission, Julie Payette studied Russian and underwent more than 120 flight hours in reduced gravity on various parabolic aircraft. (KC-135, T-33, Falcon-20, DC-9). In April 1996, in Vancouver, she completed deep-water scuba training in a pressurized hard suit and was certified as an operator, and in February 1996, she qualified a military jet captain at the Canadian Air Force Base in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Having received her military instrument ratings, she continues to pilot regularly with the training squadron. Payette has logged more than 700 flight hours including 150 on the Tutor CT-114 jet aircraft.
In August 1996, the young space traveller began training as a Mission Specialist at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Following a year of education and evaluation, she was appointed to a technical project in the robotic division/extra vehicular activities of the Astronaut Office. She became a NASA Mission Specialist in April 1998.
From May 27 to June 6, 1999, Julie Payette took part in the 10-day STS-96 mission on board the Space Shuttle Discovery for logistics and revitalization, becoming the first Canadian to take part in an assembly mission for the International Space Station, and to board the station.
Julie Payette is a member of the l'Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, and sat on the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) (1995-1998). She is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.