Saskatchewan-born U of S grad makes Canadian astronaut shortlist

University of Saskatchewan graduate Jason Leuschen is in the running to become Canada's newest astronaut, making a Canadian Space Agency shortlist for the coveted position.

Jason Leuschen got interested in space while growing up in Bruno, Sask.

Jason Leuschen is a shortlisted candidate to become Canada's next astronaut. (Submitted by Jason Leuschen)

Jason Leuschen is in some pretty good company.

The University of Saskatchewan engineering graduate is on the Canadian Space Agency's short list to become Canada's newest astronaut.

"It was a really amazing feeling to realize the dream I've had for a long time and things keep moving towards it," Leuschen said during an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

The Royal Canadian Air Force pilot is one of just 72 candidates in the running for the coveted job. The list was narrowed down from over 3,000 applications.

Leuschen said his love of space came early, while growing up on a farm in Bruno, Sask.

"I'd climb up to the top of the granary to watch sunsets, or [go] out snowmobiling out in the dark and you'd see the entire sky almost like you were in outer space," said Leuschen.

Childhood dream

The idea of becoming an astronaut was cemented for Leuschen after meeting Marc Garneau at the Canada-Wide Science Fair.

"Canada's first astronaut came and spoke to us. I had the certainty of a 12-year-old, where I knew that's a job I wanted to do," said Leuschen.

Next up for Leuschen is a round of physical and aptitude testing to determine if he'll advance to the next round of the process.

"I feel I like I've got a good shot at it and if nothing else, even if I don't get selected, it's going to be a lot of fun to go through the tests and get to meet the other candidates."