Astronaut Recruitment Campaign
On , the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) launched the fourth astronaut recruitment campaign of Canada's history. Out of 3,772 applications from Canadians in every province and territory, as well as outside Canada, and after a one-year arduous selection process, just two candidates were selected to represent Canada's new generation of space explorers.
Canada's two new astronaut candidates
The two astronaut candidates recruited in . Left: Joshua Kutryk. Right: Jennifer Sidey. (Credit: CSA)
Joshua Kutryk worked as an experimental test pilot and a fighter pilot for the Canadian Armed Forces in Cold Lake, Alberta. He is originally from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. He holds a bachelor in mechanical engineering and a master in defence studies from the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario; a master in space studies from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida; and a master in flight test engineering from the United States Air Force's Air University in Alabama. He wanted to become an astronaut because he has always been fascinated with space; he believes that space exploration can help make the world a better place; and above all, he wants to help humanity broaden its collective horizon.
Learn more about Joshua Kutryk:
Jennifer Sidey worked as a mechanical engineer, a combustion scientist and a lecturer at the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom (UK). She is originally from Calgary, Alberta. She holds an honours bachelor in mechanical engineering from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Cambridge in the UK. She dreamed of becoming an astronaut to advance the application of science for the benefit of society and to inspire young people to pursue their interests in science.
Learn more about Jennifer Sidey:
Before joining David Saint-Jacques and Jeremy Hansen as active Canadian astronauts, the two new recruits will relocate to Houston, Texas. They will complete a two-year astronaut candidate training program starting in at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
You can now follow them on social media for updates on their training and much more.
2017 Astronaut Recruitment Campaign
June 2016: Calling all astronaut hopefuls!
For the fourth time in history, the call went out to find new Canadian astronauts. Recruitment campaigns are few and far between, and just 12 Canadians were recruited during the campaigns of , and . The selection process is very demanding—Canada is looking for the best of the best!
To be considered, candidates had to meet a set of requirements and conditions, including the following:
- Have a degree in science, engineering or medicine
- Have relevant professional experience in their field
- Be in excellent health and meet physical requirements
: 3,772 applicants from all provinces and territories of Canada
During the two-month application period, 3,772 Canadians all over the nation and abroad sent in their applications. Most applications came from Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, and 24% of the applicants were women.
The Public Service Commission of Canada and the CSA have published statistics on applications for the astronaut recruitment campaign. (Credit: CSA)
Candidates who met the basic requirements then took the Public Service Entrance Exam, logic tests and preliminary medical exams. A specialized committee then analyzed the remaining profiles in order to select 72 promising and qualified candidates.
: The top 72 go through the first series of aptitude tests
In , 72 amazing Canadians went on to the next stage of the selection process. Candidates ranged from physicians to engineers, scientists, test pilots, professors, and much more. Together, they held a total of 210 university degrees, primarily in engineering, health sciences, physical sciences, biological and biomedical sciences, aeronautics and aerospace.
On , the CSA published the latest numbers on Canada's astronaut recruitment campaign. (Credit: CSA)
At this point, every candidate had the necessary educational and professional requirements. Now, it was time to determine which candidates had the right skills and character to become Canada's next astronauts.
This is where the selection process got more demanding. The first series of aptitude tests took place during an intensive three-day period in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, to test the candidates' strategic thinking skills and physical fitness. This included:
- Dexterity, logic and critical reasoning tests
- Swimming, fitness and cardio tests
A number of other qualities were also assessed, such as good judgment, motivation, resourcefulness and teamwork, along with their communications and social media skills.
During the next round of evaluations, the testing intensified and the candidates were pushed to their limits.
: The top 32 are tested in emergency simulations
For a full week in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the remaining 32 candidates were put through emergency simulations in challenging environments to test their resilience and their ability to think and react under pressure—crucial skills in a harsh environment such as space!
During individual and group exercises, the candidates had to:
- solve problems
- take part in emergency and rescue simulations
- fight fires and contain floods
To go through to the next stage, they needed to exhibit abilities like problem solving, dexterity, coordination, leadership and, of course, team spirit.
To go through to the next stage, they needed to exhibit good coordination and strong leadership skills.
: The top 17 go through final robotics, communication and medical tests
In , the final 17 candidates were announced! One last series of tests awaited them.
Three main areas were evaluated:
- Robotics: After taking robotics training at the CSA headquarters (John H. Chapman Space Centre), the aspiring astronauts took part in simulations of Canadarm2 operations to demonstrate their dexterity and ability to learn quickly.
- Health: Long-duration spaceflight can affect your body, so excellent health is a must to become an astronaut. The candidates underwent extensive medical tests, including blood tests, respiratory tests, eye and dental exams, psychological evaluations, scans and MRIs.
- Communications: Astronauts are spokespeople for the space program and help promote science literacy. They are also role models for kids of all ages in Canada and around the world. That is why throughout the selection process, they were tested on their ability to communicate using plain language and their public speaking skills. Communication tests included delivering presentations in schools, giving media interviews, filming video messages and producing content for social media.
: Final interviews
Lastly, the remaining candidates went through one final interview at the John H. Chapman Space Centre with a special committee formed of CSA executives, industry experts, and current and former astronauts.
Joshua Kutryk goes through a final interview at the John H. Chapman Space Centre during the last stage of the Astronaut Recruitment Campaign. (Credit: CSA)
: Announcement of the two new Canadian astronauts!
On , more than one year after applications opened, Joshua Kutryk and Jennifer Sidey were named as the two newest Canadian astronaut recruits! Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced them in Ottawa during celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
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