Canada Mourns Death of Astronaut Dr. Ken Money

Dr. Ken Money. Credit: Canadian Armed Forces.

Dr. Ken Money, one of Canada’s Original Six astronauts, died at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto on March 6, 2023. He was 88. 

Canada’s National Research Council selected Dr. Money on December 5, 1983 to be part of ‘Canada Group 1′, along with Roberta Bondar, Marc Garneau, Steve MacLean, Robert Thirsk, and Bjarni Tryggvason. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) became Dr. Money’s boss after it was founded in 1989.

Although Dr. Money was the only one of the Original Six not to fly in space, he still made significant contributions to NASA’s Space Shuttle program. According to his obituary, Dr. Money “launched Canada’s initial medical experiments performed in space when the first Canadian astronaut (Editor’s note: Marc Garneau) flew on Shuttle mission STS-41G.” This was on the Space Shuttle Challenger, which lifted off on October 5, 1984. 

“In early 1990, Dr. Money was designated alternate payload specialist for the first International Microgravity Laboratory mission, Space Shuttle Discovery flight STS-42, that flew in January of 1992,” says Dr. Money’s official CSA biography. “As Spacelab payload operations controller for this life sciences mission that investigated microgravity and its effects on the human body in space, he coordinated communications between the flight crew and the ground support team from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He also helped formulate numerous space physiology experiments for the Spacelab IML-1 mission to explore the root causes of space sickness.”

Dr. Ken Money’s specialty was vestibular physiology and aviation medicine. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a PhD in physiology in 1961, he joined the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine (DCIEM), now known as Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC Toronto), in Downsview, Ontario. Dr. Money became an expert on motion sickness in human spaceflight – which is experienced by 60-80% of astronauts during their first 2-3 days in microgravity – and also studied spatial disorientation in pilot flight.

Dr. Money started working with NASA in 1962 as a scientific advisor to the U.S. agency. He subsequently served as an experiment co-investigator on six Space Shuttle missions. After being chosen for Canada Group 1, Dr. Money began his astronaut training in February, 1984. He retired from the CSA in 1992, to return to the field of physiology. 

Two facts worth know about Dr. Ken Money:

  • While studying at the University of Toronto, Dr. Money was a star athlete in track & field and swimming. In 1956, he represented Canada at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. He placed fifth in the High Jump with a score of 2.03, just 0.05 below Gold Medal winner Charles Everett Dumas (2.12) of the United States.
  • Dr. Money was a fighter pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force, with experience in numerous kinds of aircraft. “Ken was arguably the best qualified of any of us to fly in space,” said fellow CSA astronaut Steve MacLean, in a quote posted on the CSA’s Twitter account. “That came with a sense of humour that instantly elevated all our spirits, all the time.”

About James Careless

James Careless is an award-winning satellite communications writer. He has covered the industry since the 1990s.

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