Women in Space: Sgt Mandie MacKenzie

News Article / October 7, 2021

The theme of this year’s UN World Space Week, Women in Space, carries special meaning for at least one Canadian Space Specialist.

Sergeant Mandie MacKenzie, a Senior Space Watch Crew Chief at the Canadian Space Operations Centre (CANSpOC), sees UN World Space Week as an opportunity to inspire other women interested in the space domain.

“Women can understand space and women can contribute to space, and our contributions are vital,” said Sgt MacKenzie. “There has been a glass ceiling for so long, so to be able to participate in and contribute to Canada’s future in the space domain has a lot of meaning.”

Sgt MacKenzie describes her job as manning a virtual space observation post, surrounded by 19 screens that display varying types and classifications of data. She reports on anything from missile warning detection to collision of objects in space to system outages. This all contributes to CANSpOC’s ability to provide 24/7 monitoring of the space domain to help ensure the safety of Canadian and allied space-based capabilities.

The CAF relies on space-based capabilities for a range of activities including all-domain awareness, weather information, surveillance, intelligence gathering and reconnaissance, search and rescue, navigation, and global communications. Ensuring continued and uninterrupted service from these capabilities is essential.

Through her work, Sgt MacKenzie has also seen how deeply dependent Canadians – not just the CAF – have become on space.

“Most people don’t realize how much of the things they use day-to-day, such as navigation maps or banking, are supported by space-based assets,” she said. “People would be shocked to find out how dependent we have become on these things.”

It’s her job to help protect those capabilities, something she finds endlessly exciting thanks to incredible advances in technology.

“Working with international partners makes the world a much smaller place, and it makes it a friendlier place,” she said. “We are all the same, driving toward the same goal. The stuff we’re able to do now is the stuff of science fiction. Those things I could have never imagined as a little girl is now our reality and I get to be a part of that.”

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