About me

About me > My professional achievements

My professional achievements

Engineer at the Canadian Space Agency

Note: The statements about the Canadian Space Agency on this page are those of the website's author and do not necessarily represent positions or opinions of the Canadian Space Agency.

Since I was a kid, I've always dreamed of working for NASA. I had the incredible opportunity to do an internship at the Canadian Space Agency during my studies at university in 2001 and I have not left since then! I did 3 other internships and I had part-time contracts between my internships before I graduated. I was then hired by a company that was a contractor for the government so I could continue my work after my studies! I am now a federal public servant and I'm very proud of it! I would like to share with you a few of my achievements since I have joined this wonderful world.

Software design

From April 2001 to August 2007, I worked in the satellite operations department at the Canadian Space Agency. I designed, implemented, tested, documented and maintained several software applications used to receive telemetry from satellites during contacts with them. These contacts were performed with 10-meter antennas located in St-Hubert (Quebec) and in Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) in Canada.

Marie-Hélène Cyr - Canadian Space Agency (August 24, 2007)

Me beside the software applications I developed for the satellite operations department when I left the company in August 2007. I developed 3 out of the 6 software applications shown on the screens.

Configuration management - Canadian Space Station Program (CSSP)

I've been a federal public servant since September 2007. From September 2007 to April 2011, I worked in the safety and program assurance department at the Canadian Space Agency as a configuration management (CM) engineer.

Only 2 months after I was hired by the government, the famous "STS-120" mission to the International Space Station was launched and almost led to disaster. Indeed, one of the main solar arrays got damaged when it was moved from one place to another in orbit! In a 24-hour timeframe, we worked like crazy to deliver scripts to NASA to move the Canadian robotic arm on the space station (Canadarm2) toward the solar array. The repair wasn't possible without Canadarm2 because it was the only way to bring an astronaut to the solar array to repair it. I was very fortunate to participate in that delivery of scripts and despite the fact that I worked over 20 hours that day, it was very gratifying to know that I had participated in this repair, even if my involvement was very brief. It takes a lot of people to lead a dangerous task to success in space!

Scott Parazynski - STS-120 mission to the International Space Station to repair solar array (November 3, 2007)

Astronaut Scott Parazynski repairing the solar array at the end of the boom used to inspect the space shuttle (OBSS) used as an extension to Canadarm2 (the damage can easily be seen on the left in the picture).

Configuration management - James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

As a CM engineer, I also actively worked on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project that will eventually replace Hubble. Canada developed and delivered to NASA, among others, a guidance instrument essential for the telescope to function properly. I was then directly exposed to project management, because I was often working with the manager of this project. We were very fortunate to see the full-scale model of the telescope in the Old Port of Montreal in July 2008. I took the opportunity to get my picture taken beside it!

Marie-Hélène Cyr - James Webb Space Telescope full-scale model in the Old Port of Montreal (July 12, 2008)

Full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in the Old Port of Montreal in July 2008.

Project management

From April 2011 to November 2017, I worked in the Project Management Office (PMO) as an engineer in project management for the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM). I was part of the subgroup who managed the development and implementation of the ground segment of this mission to be able to communicate with the satellites once launched and on orbit. With this position, I traded the specialized technical work that I was previously doing in software design to become a kind of generalist who takes care of the coordination of a part of the project. I faced a lot of challenges and had various responsibilities, such as write various statements of work and put in place different contracts and interdepartmental agreements for ground systems and services that already exist in other government departments. Outstanding achievement to note: I actively participated in the elaboration of the statement of work of the manufacturing phase of the constellation of satellites and the ground segment. It was tenacious and very important work, because this document was essential to the award of the 706 million dollars contract for this phase! The satellites were launched in June 2019.

Since November 2017, I'm the mission manager for some life science experiments conducted with astronauts before, during and after their long-term mission onboard the International Space Station. Since my dream as a kid was to become an astronaut, being able to help Canadian investigators to conduct high-quality science with astronauts to understand the effects of microgravity and to find solutions to health problems affecting thousands of people in the world is for me binding two passions: space and medicine!

Despite the stress caused by my new responsibilities, the work is very rewarding and I like being more involved in Canadian research.

This passionate and beautiful story of my work at the Canadian Space Agency continues on a daily basis. It's a great place to work as an engineer!

Web designer and programmer

In my spare time, I like refining my knowledge in the web domain very much. My degree in computer engineering gave me good tools to take up web programming and I always work on my artistic side to build visually attractive websites.

My first realization in web is obviously my personal website, the current website, for which I did the entire graphical design and the whole web programming.

With time, I was able to get other contracts, which are now over. I now focus on another passion, that is writing.

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