Canada's next governor general will be former astronaut Julie Payette

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      Media outlets are reporting that Canada's next governor general will be the first who has gone to outer space.

      Montreal-born former astronaut Julie Payette is expected to be appointed today as the viceroy (a.k.a. the Queen's representative).

      She was the second Canadian woman to go into space and she has orbited Earth more than 400 times.

      The governor general's job pays $290,600 per year. The Queen acts on the advice of the prime minister in making this appointment.

      Payette will replace David Johnston, a former law professor and law-school dean.

      "The governor general acts on the advice of the prime minister and the government, but has the right to advise, to encourage and to warn. As such, the governor general can offer valued counsel to the head of Government," the governor general website states.

      The governor general is nonpartisan and must ensure that Canada always has a prime minister and government in place that has the confidence of Parliament. This gives the governor general the right to ask a party leader to form a government if no party has a majority of seats in the House of Commons.

      "The governor general also presides over the swearing-in of the prime minister, the chief justice of Canada and cabinet ministers," the website states. "It is the governor general who summons, prorogues and dissolves Parliament, who delivers the Speech from the Throne, and who gives Royal Assent to acts of Parliament. The governor general signs official documents and regularly meets with the prime minister."

      In addition, the governor general receives Royal visitors, as well as heads of state and foreign ambassadors at Rideau Hall and at the Citadelle of Quebec.

      That's on top of handing out awards to Canadians in a multitude of areas and serving as the commander-in-chief of Canada.

      In 2010, Payette was among a group of eight famous Canadians who brought the Olympic flag into B.C. Place Stadium.

      She was later appointed to the board of Own the Podium, which is chaired by former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong.

      Julie Payette (rear right) was among a group of famous Canadians who brought the Olympic flag into B.C. Place Stadium during the 2010 opening ceremony.
      Tim Hipps

      Here's a biography of Payette on the federal government website.

      Personal Profile: Born October 20, 1963, in Montreal, Quebec, Ms. Payette enjoys running, skiing, racquet sports and scuba diving. She has a commercial pilot licence with float rating. Ms. Payette is fluent in French and English, and can converse in Spanish, Italian, Russian and German. She plays the piano and has sung with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Piacere Vocale in Basel, Switzerland, and the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto.

      Education: Attended primary and secondary school in Montreal, Quebec. International Baccalaureate (1982) from the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales, UK. Bachelor of Engineering, Electrical (1986) cum laude from McGill University, Montreal. Master of Applied Science - Computer Engineering (1990) from the University of Toronto.

      Organizations: Member of l'Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec and the International Academy of Astronautics. Member of the Board of Canada's "Own The Podium" Olympic High Performance Program. Former Governor-in-Council for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and member of the board of Queen's University. Les Amies d'affaires du Ritz.

      Special Honours: Received one of six Canadian scholarships to attend the Atlantic College in Wales, UK (1980). Greville-Smith Scholarship (1982-1986), highest undergraduate award at McGill University. McGill University Faculty Scholar (1983-1986). NSERC post-graduate Scholarship (1988-1990). Massey College Fellowship (1988-1990). Canadian Council of Professional Engineers; distinction for exceptional achievement by a young engineer (1994). NASA Space Flight Medal (1999). Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Pléiade de la francophonie (2001). Knight of l'Ordre National du Québec (2002). NASA Space Flight Medal (2009). University of Ottawa Distinguish Canadian Leadership Award (2009). Carried the Olympic flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. Engineers Canada Gold Medal (2010), highest recognition of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers. Inducted in the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame (2010). NASA Exceptional Service Medal (2010). Officer of the Order of Canada (2010).

      Honorary Degrees: Queen's University (1999); University of Ottawa (1999); Simon Fraser University (2000); Université Laval (2000); University of Regina (2001); Royal Roads University (2001); University of Toronto (2001); University of Victoria (2002); Nipissing University (2002); McGill University (2003); Mount Saint Vincent University (2004); McMaster University (2004); University of Lethbridge (2005); Mount Allison University (2005); University of Alberta (2006); York University (2010); University of Waterloo (2010); Concordia University (2010).

      Experience: Before joining the space program, Ms. Payette conducted research in computer systems, natural language processing and automatic speech recognition. She worked as a system engineer with IBM Canada (1986-1988); research assistant at the University of Toronto (1988-1990); visiting scientist at the IBM Research Laboratory, in Zurich, Switzerland (1991) and research engineer with BNR/Northern in Montreal (1992).

      In June 1992, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) selected Ms. Payette from 5330 applicants to become one of four astronauts. After her basic training in Canada, she worked as a technical advisor for the Mobile Servicing System (MSS), an advanced robotics system contributed by Canada to the International Space Station (ISS).

      In preparation for a space mission assignment, Ms. Payette obtained her commercial pilot license, studied Russian and logged 120 hours as a research operator on board reduced gravity aircraft. In April 1996, Ms. Payette was certified as a one-atmosphere, deep-sea diving suit operator. Ms. Payette obtained her military pilot captaincy on the Tutor CT-114 ''Snowbird'' jet at the Canadian Air Force Base in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in February 1996. She obtained her military instrument rating in 1997. She has logged more than 1300 hours of flight time. Ms. Payette was Chief Astronaut for the CSA from 2000 to 2007.

      NASA Experience: Ms. Payette reported to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas in August 1996. She completed initial astronaut training in April 1998 and was assigned to work on technical issues in robotics for the Astronaut Office. In 1999 she flew on STS-96 and has logged over 465 hours in space. A veteran of two space flights, STS-96 (1999) and STS-127 (2009), she has logged over 611 hours in space.

      From September 1999 to December 2002, Ms. Payette was assigned to represent the Astronaut corps at the European and Russian space agencies where she supervised procedure development, equipment verification and space hardware processing for the International Space Station Program.

      Since January 2003, Ms. Payette works as a CAPCOM (Capsule Communicator) at Mission Control Center in Houston and was Lead CAPCOM for Space Shuttle mission STS-121 (2006). The CAPCOM is responsible for all communications between ground controllers and the astronauts in flight.

      Space Flight Experience: Julie Payette flew on Space Shuttle Discovery from May 27 to June 6, 1999 as a crewmember of STS-96. During the mission, the crew performed the first manual docking of the Shuttle to the International Space Station, and delivered four tons of supplies to the Station. Ms. Payette served as a mission specialist, was responsible for the Station systems, supervised the space walk and operated the Canadarm robotic arm. The STS-96 mission was accomplished in 153 orbits of the Earth, traveling more than six million kilometres in 9 days, 19 hours and 13 minutes. Ms. Payette was the first Canadian to participate in an ISS assembly mission and to board the Space Station.

      From July 15 to 31, 2009, Julie Payette served as the flight engineer on the crew of STS-127 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on the 29th Shuttle mission to the International Space Station. During this mission, also known as ISS Assembly Mission 2J/A, the crew completed the construction of the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module, installed scientific experiments on its Exposed Facility and delivered critical spare parts and replacement batteries to the orbital complex. Robotics technology was used almost every day on this assembly mission and Ms. Payette operated all three robotic arms – the Shuttle's Canadarm, the Station's Canadarm2, and a special-purpose Japanese arm on Kibo. While the Shuttle was docked to the ISS, the mission featured a record 13 astronauts from 5 different nationalities together on board a single joint spacecraft. It also highlighted the first time two Canadians were in space at the same time. The 16-day mission included five spacewalks, travelling 10.5 million kilometers in 248 orbits around the Earth.

      In January 2011, Julie Payette undertook a fellowship as a Public  Policy Scholar at the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Center for International  Scholars in Washington, D.C. In October  2011, Ms. Payette became the scientific authority for Quebec in  Washington on behalf of Quebec's Department of Economic Development, Innovation  and Export Trade. During her assignment, Ms. Payette remained a member of the Canadian Astronaut corps. In  July 2013, Ms. Payette retired from the CSA to become Chief Operating Officer of the Montreal Science Centre as well as Vice President of  the Canada Lands Company.