• Joshua Kutryk Jenni Sidey Canadian Space Agency astronauts

    Joshua Kutryk and Jennifer Sidey, the newest Canadian Space Agency astronauts. (Photo courtesy Canadian Space Agency)

As humanity sets its sights beyond Earth's orbit, a new generation of Canadian astronauts will play a leading role in the next phase of space exploration. 

On July 1, Canada Day, the Canadian Space Agency announced its two newest astronauts, Jennifer "Jenni" Sidey and Joshua Kutryk. Sidey and Kutryk, both from Alberta, beat out nearly 3,800 applicants for the job following a grueling one-year recruitment process. 

"These new recruits will be part of the next generation of space explorers that pushes the limits of science and technology while advancing public understanding of our universe," the CSA said in a press release. "In the process, they will inspire young Canadians to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

Sidey hails from Calgary and holds a PhD in engineering with a focus on combustion from Cambridge University in the U.K., where she worked as an assistant professor prior to joining the space program. She also cofounded the Cambridge chapter of Robogals, an organization that works to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM. 

Before joining the space program, Kutryk, who grew up on a cattle farm in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., worked as an experimental test pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force, looking at safety features of the CF-18. He also worked as a fighter pilot and was deployed in Afghanistan and Libya. 

Both astronauts will now spend two years at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas completing NASA's Astronaut Candidate Training Program, which includes scientific and technical briefings, language training, wilderness and sea survival skills, flight training, and detailed instruction on the systems of the International Space Station. They could someday join a mission to the ISS like CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques, who heads to orbit in November 2018, or other missions into deep space. 

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