Eight Members of the RCAF Among the 17 Astronaut Finalists

The 17 finalists in the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut recruitment campaign pose for a photo with Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains (centre, front) and Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremy Hansen, Canadian astronaut and Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot moments after the announcement of the finalists. PHOTO: Canadian Space Agency

Seventeen candidates will go through the final rounds of assessments in the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) Astronaut Recruitment Campaign. By the summer, the CSA will select two qualified astronauts among this pool of finalists.

Today, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains announced the finalists for the recruitment campaign. Among the 17 finalists are 10 members of the Canadian Armed Forces, of whom eight are members of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

“We have 17 candidates left in our astronaut recruitment campaign,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremy Hansen, an RCAF fighter pilot and Canadian astronaut, moments after the announcement in Toronto. “We’ve been putting them through tests throughout the past 10 months and we’ve still got a ways to go; somehow, some way we’ve got to pick two astronauts from this group of amazing Canadians!”

Major-General Tammy Harris, deputy commander of the RCAF, told the candidates that “they are all role-models and each an inspiration to Canadians”, regardless of what happens next in the process.

The deputy commander’s office is responsible‎ for coordinating the Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces support to the Astronaut Recruitment Campaign. “I do want to also thank Major-General Tammy Harris… for your leadership,” said Minister Bains. “It is greatly appreciated, and it’s so important to the Canadian Space Agency and the recruitment process.”

Here is the complete list of the 17 finalists

Matthew Bamsey

Alex DeLorey

Second Lieutenant Francis James Frenzel, RCAF, from 436 Transport Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario

Captain Vanessa Fulford, RCAF, from the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment located at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta

Major Michael Anthony Jordan, RCAF, from the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter Combined Test Force, located in Florida

Erik Kroeker

Major Joshua Kutryk, RCAF, from 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta

Charles-Philippe Lajoie

Second Lieutenant Jason Leuschen, RCAF, from Defence Research and Development Canada in Ottawa

Major Robert Riddell, Ottawa

Jennifer Anne MacKinnon Sidey

Captain Adam Sirek, RCAF Reserve, located in Tecumseh, Ontario

Captain Nathalie Sleno, RCAF, from the Canadian Army’s 1 Field Ambulance Detachment, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Evan Alexander Beirne Thomas

Captain Andréane Vidal, RCAF, from Canadian Special Operations Command at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario

Captain Michelle Whitty, Calgary

Jesse Zroback

In the coming months, these candidates will move into the final phase of the recruitment process.

The campaign comes as Canada prepares to participate with space agencies from around the world in future deep-space missions.

The work of an astronaut is highly demanding and requires a broad set of skills. The CSA, with partners from the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces, designed a series of assessments to evaluate each of the candidate’s critical, analytical and creative thinking skills. Each candidate is also assessed for their fitness level, resilience, and ability to work in extreme conditions as part of a team.

“We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the fact and thank the Department of National Defence for the role that they’ve played in the recruitment process. DND helped us design the tests, but most importantly, had the facilities to help us execute those tests, so we’re very grateful for that participation,” noted Lieutenant-Colonel Hansen.

“Space has the power to inspire. And I can think of no better sources of inspiration for young Canadians than the enormously gifted men and women who make up the cohort of astronaut candidates that our country has to draw from,” said Minister Bains. “Every one of them is a high achiever in their own right. The 17 finalists in this competition come from all walks of life. They are doctors, engineers, pilots and scientists. They have the power to fire up the imaginations of our young people and influence the next generation of space scientists and innovators.”

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and the Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
(Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Quick facts

Canada’s fourth astronaut recruitment campaign was launched in June 2016. The search for the next generation of space explorers attracted more than 3,772 applicants from a wide variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematics backgrounds.

Budget 2016 committed $379 million to extend until 2024 Canada’s participation in the International Space Station. The purpose of this mission is to conduct research that positions the Canadian space sector for emerging scientific and innovation opportunities.

The evaluation tools used to assess the astronaut candidates were developed by CSA in collaboration with former and current astronauts as well as the Department of National Defence.

(With files from RCAF public affairs)

Source: Canadian Space Agency