The headquarters of the Canadian Space Agency in St. Hubert was puzzled early in the morning, while dozens of people, including some children still in pajamas, followed the astronaut David Saint Jacques in space.
Saint Jacques, along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and US astronaut Anne McClane, flew in the hand of the Russian Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan, on the way to the International Space Station (ISS) at 6:31 am.
The crowd on the side included members of the Saint-Jacques family, as well as Governor-General Julie Payte, and the former astronaut himself.
"Today is particularly special, from what we get from David's work when he is in space, but what we saw this morning," the Canadian astronaut Sidey-Gibbons, who was at hand for the launch.
A packed house at the Canadian Space Agency. Most people here are employed. It's basically like Christmas for the employees here – and many of them brought their kids (some are still in pjs!) pic.twitter.com/7uv21RuR2w
Sen Jacques, 48, a native of Quebec and raised on the outskirts of Montreal, Saint Lambert, will spend the next six and a half months in space.
"The layout of the space station is very busy. Every five minutes increase in our lives is scheduled and will be the same for David, too," he said, Robert Thirsk, another astronaut, before the crowd at the event.
"The challenge for him will be to pace."
Two other local institutions held events to mark the launch: Collège de Maisonneuve and Polytechnique Engineering School.
Sen Jacques attended both schools. He was an engineer, astrophysicist and physician before joining the Canadian Space Agency.
This is the first time a Canadian has been in space since 2013, when Chris Hudfield has gained tremendous popularity across the globe, providing sights – and occasional musical performances – in the everyday life of the orbital lab's board.