Seventeen Canadians have taken a major step closer to achieving their dream of becoming an astronaut. The Canadian Space Agency announced on April 24 the finalists of their latest recruitment challenge, two of whom will eventually become Canada’s newest astronauts.
More than 3,700 people applied to the recruitment when it launched in June 2016, but a gamut of medical, mental, physical and psychological tests narrowed the field to the 17 remaining hopefuls who will now start the final stage of the challenge.
"We put these candidates through their paces," said Jeremy Hansen, astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency, and part of the recruitment team. "We now absolutely know that they just won’t quit."
"The 17 finalists in this competition come from all walks of life," said Navdeep Bains, Minister of innovation, science and economic development. Some are doctors, others are officers, pilots, or professors; some have done all four.
The candidates now have a couple of months left of training before the Canadian Space Agency officially announces the country's two newest astronauts in the summer. Meet the candidates, below. And as Bains said to them: "Good luck and kick some butt."
Canadian Space Agency Finalists:
Matthew Bamsey, Burlington, Ontario
- Chief systems engineer with the German Aerospace Centre
- He is currently working on a project called EDEN ISS that is developing a greenhouse to send to Germany’s Antarctic station to supply the scientists there with fresh food all year round.
Alex DeLorey, Moncton, N.B.
- Mechanical Engineer
- DeLorey currently works as a project manager for the Bruce Major Components Replacement Project, helping to replace six nuclear reactors on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario.
Francis James Frenzel, Newmarket, Ont.
- Pilot-in-training for the Canadian Air Force
- When he is not training, Frenzel helps to coordinate the flights of the Canadian Forces base in Trenton.
Vanessa Fulford, Fort McMurray, Alta.
- Flight test engineer for the Royal Canadian Air Force
- Fulford works primarily with the CF188 Hornet aircraft, testing to ensure all new equipment and software runs smoothly.
Michael Anthony Jordan, Halifax, N.S.
- Department of National Defense test pilot
- Jordan tests the safety of helicopter aircrafts for the Canadian Armed Forces
Erik Kroeker, Chatham, Ont.
- Staff scientist and lecturer at the University of Illinois
- Kroeker teaches aerospace engineering and researches satellites for space missions.
Joshua Kutryk, Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.
- Commanding officer of flight tests with the Royal Canadian Air Force
- Kutryk works as the head of the team flight testing fighter aircrafts. He is also a test pilot and fighter pilot.
Charles-Phillippe Lajoie, Rouyn-Noranda, Que.
- Astonomical optics scientist
- Lajoie is currently working at the James Webb Space Telescope run by NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.
Jason Leuschen, Murrayville, B.C.
- Student pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force
- Leuschen is training to become a helicopter pilot, hoping to fly search-and-rescue missions.
Robert Riddell, Belleville, Ont.
- Medical officer with the Canadian Armed Forces
- Riddell has worked as a physician both in Canada and while on missions with the Forces abroad.
Jennifer Anne MacKinnon Sidey, Calgary, Alta.
- Lecturer at the University of Cambridge
- Sidey teaches physics at Cambridge and in particular studies flames and thermodynamics.
Adam Sirek, Toronto, Ont.
- Family physician in Windsor, Ont.
- Along with being a family doctor, Sirek is also on staff at the local hospital and teaches medical students and residents at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Nathalie Sleno, St. Albert, Alta.
- Medical officer in the Canadian Armed Forces
- Sleno is lead on the team for field ambulance detachment in Yellowknife, N.W.T., and she is the medical advisor for the military in the North of Canada.
Evan Alexander Beirne Thomas, Montreal, Que.
- Associate professor at Portland State University
- Thomas teaches mechanical engineering and public health. He runs a health program in Rwanda, providing cooking stoves and water filters, and worked with NASA as an aerospace engineer.
Andréane Vidal, Montreal Que.
- Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces
- Vidal studies both equipment and procedures to find deficiencies and report them back to the Government of Canada.
Michelle Whitty, Winnipeg, Man.
- Captain in the Canadian Armed Forces
- Whitty is currently in training to become a medical officer for the military, doing her residency in family medicine at the University of Calgary.
Jessy Zroback, Richmond, Va., U.S.A.
- Family physician in Marathon, Ont.
- Zroback works in the emergency room, hospital and clinic of the small community east of Thunder Bay, Ont.