Canadian astronaut finalists include two from Windsor region

Two locals from our region could soon reach new heights. Adam Sirek from Tecumseh and Erik Kroeker, originally from Chatham are two of 17 finalists to become Canada's next astronaut.

Adam Sirek of Tecumseh, and Erik Kroeker originally from Chatham are among 17 finalists

Erik Kroeker, born in Chatham, takes a series of aptitude tests as a CSA astronaut candidate. (MCpl Chris Ringius/Formation Imaging Services Halifax/Canadian Space Agency)

Two men from the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent areas could soon reach new heights, literally. 

The Canadian Space Agency announced its 17 finalists in the race to become Canada's next astronaut. They include Adam Sirek from Tecumseh, and Erik Kroeker, who is originally from Chatham.

Kroeker teaches aerospace engineering at the University of Illinois, while Sirek is a family doctor in Windsor. "We all have very unique backgrounds, unique skill sets," said Sirek.

They've had to complete a wide variety of tests from the Space Agency to narrow down the field. 

Tecumseh's Adam Sirek writes an aptitude test from the Canadian Space Agency. (Éric Carrière/Agence Spatiale du Canada)

"Just about everything you could possibly imagine," described Kroeker. "One of the important parts of being an astronaut is being able to deal with new and difficult situations and being able to keep your head about you."

The CSA tests have rivalled other evaluations often considered difficult, say the candidates. "As a physician, trying to get into medical school... also in the air force, nothing matches up with how intense this agency has been," said Sirek.

Erik Kroeker going through a test from the Canadian Space Agency. (MCpl Chris Ringius/Formation Imaging Services Halifax/Canadian Space Agency)

The potential astronauts have no idea what the final criteria will be to get the chance to blast off into space. "I wish I knew. I think many of the candidates here are wondering exactly that," said Sirek.

Adam Sirek going through tests to become an astronaut. (Cpl Anthony Chand/DND/Canadian Space Agency)

The competition began with nearly 3,800 applicants, and it's been narrowed down to a final cut of 12 men and five women. The space agency will pick two from that final 17 to become the next astronauts for Canada.

"You could pick any two of them and they'd be the right choice," said Kroeker.