Bjarni Tryggvason is a former Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut who served as a Payload Specialist on Space Shuttle mission STS-85, a mission to study changes in the Earth’s atmosphere. He has over 4,000 hours of flight experience and has been a part of several major space missions undertaken by the CSA and the National Research Council (NRC). He is one of Canada's original six astronauts and was trained as a backup payload specialist for the CANEX-2 set of experiments. He also served as the project engineer for the Space Vision System Target Spacecraft on Mission STS-52. Born in Iceland, he grew up in Vancouver and began his career as a meteorologist with the cloud physics group at the Atmospheric Environment Service in Toronto. His association with the NRC began when he joined the Low Speed Aerodynamics Laboratory in Ottawa. While researching on the sinking of the Ocean Ranger oil rig, he designed and led the aerodynamics tests as a part of the NRC team investigating this case. Following this he was selected as one of the six Canadian astronauts. Before embarking on a career as an astronaut he used to teach graduate courses on structural dynamics and random vibrations as a part-time lecturer. Now retired, he has returned to teaching.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on 21 September 1945 in Reykjavík, Iceland. He received his primary education from schools in Nova Scotia and British Columbia.
He attended high school in Richmond, British Columbia and enrolled at the University of British Columbia for his higher studies. He received his Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering Physics in 1972.
Later on he completed postgraduate work in engineering with specialization in applied mathematics and fluid dynamics at the University of Western Ontario.
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In 1972, he was appointed as a meteorologist with the cloud physics group at the Atmospheric Environment Service in Toronto where he worked till 1973.
He joined the University of Western Ontario as a research associate at the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory in 1974. There he worked on projects involving rigid and aero-elastic model studies of wind effects on structures.
During this time he also started teaching as a guest research associate, first at the Kyoto University, Japan, in 1978, followed by James Cook University in Townsville, Australia.
He returned to the University of Western Ontario as a lecturer in applied mathematics in 1979 and held this position till 1982. After leaving this teaching position he accepted an offer to join the Low Speed Aerodynamics Laboratory at the National Research Council (NRC) as a Research Officer.
In 1981, he started teaching graduate courses on structural dynamics and random vibrations as a part-time lecturer at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.
In February 1982, the Ocean Ranger oil rig sank. He was part of the NRC team which investigated the tragedy. Tryggvason designed and led the aerodynamics tests, which established the wind loads acting on the rig.
He was selected as one of the original six Canadian astronauts in December 1983, and trained as a backup payload specialist to Steve MacLean for the CANEX-2 set of experiments, which flew on Mission STS-52 from 22 October to 1 November 1992.
He served as the Project Engineer for the design of the Space Vision System (SVS) Target Spacecraft which was deployed during that mission.
He also served as the principal investigator for several projects including the development of the Large Motion Isolation Mount (LMIM) which flew numerous times on NASA KC-135 and DC-9 aircraft; the Microgravity vibration Isolation Mount (MIM) which operated on the Russian space station, Mir, from April 1996 until January 1998 to support several Canadian and US experiments in material science and fluid physics; and of the MIM-2 which flew on STS-85 in August 1997.
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As the originator and technical director, he played a key role in the early development phase of the Microgravity Vibration Isolation Subsystem (MVIS) which was developed for the European Space Agency Fluid Science Laboratory by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
He flew as a payload specialist aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on Mission STS-85 in August 1997. He tested MIM-2 and performed fluid dynamics experiments designed to examine sensitivity to spacecraft vibrations on the 12-day mission to study changes in the Earth’s atmosphere.
He participated in a NASA mission specialist training held at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to train astronauts as both mission specialists for the space shuttle and as potential crewmembers for the ISS.
*In 2001 he took a leave from the CSA and worked in the private sector till 2003. He returned temporarily to work at the CSA in 2004 and retired in June 2008.
He was part of the NRC team assembled to study the sinking of the Ocean Ranger oil rig. He designed and led the aerodynamics tests, which established the wind loads acting on the rig.
In 1997, he served as a Payload Specialist on STS-85, a 12-day mission to study changes in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Awards & Achievements
He received the NASA Space Flight Medal in 1997.
He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Western Ontario in 1998, and one from the University of Iceland in 2000.
He is the proud recipient of three Canadian Space Agency Innovators Awards.
Personal Life & Legacy
He was once married to Lilyanna Zmijak, but the couple split up later on. He has two children, a son, Michael Kristjan, and a daughter, Lauren Stephanie Chironne.