Blasting off from Kazakhstan in a Russian spaceship, Bob Thirsk is on his way to spending six months in the international space station. The mission has many firsts—every international space agency is involved, the most astronauts ever will be working in the station (six), and at the mission’s end, Thirsk will have spent the longest amount of time in orbit of any Canadian. The long stay is meant to test the endurance of the human body in space, information that could be used for the construction of colonies on the moon or other planets. This is Thirsk’s second mission—he will be working as the crew’s robotics expert and medical officer. He says that with six astronauts living so close together, things could get a little cramped.