Science

Canada will hire 2 new astronauts

Here's your chance to apply to be one of Canada's two next astronauts. The Canadian Space Agency is recruiting prospective space explorers between now and mid-August.

Applications are open on the Canadian Space Agency website until Aug. 15

Could you cut it as a Canadian astronaut?

5 years ago
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Here's what the Canadian Space Agency looks for in a candidate 1:02

If you've ever dreamed of riding spaceships, floating weightless in space, and viewing the Earth from orbit, here's your chance.

The federal government is about to hire two new astronauts, the minister of innovation, science and economic development has announced.

"Our astronauts have been a source of national pride for our country. If you have been aspired to go beyond our planet's frontier, now is your chance to make this dream a reality," said Navdeep Bains at a press conference today at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa with Canada's two current astronauts, Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques (who joined by video conference).

Bains gave no indication that the next class of astronauts would be headed to the moon, Mars or even any further than low-Earth orbit. He said they will advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station.

Candidates are invited to apply starting today on the Canadian Space Agency website. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 15.

'Rigorous selection process' past 1st round

The agency says it is looking for candidates with "an academic background in science or technology, excellent health, and a wide range of outstanding qualities and skills."

But Saint-Jacques said the most important factor is a candidate's personality under pressure.

Those who make it past the first selection round will take part in a "rigorous selection process" lasting almost a year that involves written exams, interviews, and a battery of physical and mental fitness tests.

"They bring you to your knees. They bring you to your absolute limit. Every test is an ultimate challenge of what you can give," Saint-Jacques said. "And then once you've had enough, and you're exhausted, then the test begins."

Hansen said he always wanted to be an astronaut and applied after hearing about the Canadian Space Agency's last recruitment drive on the news, but assumed he wouldn't be accepted. 

He says he was convinced he could do the job, but "I thought statistically, realistically there's no way they're going to pick me."

He encouraged applicants to "believe in themselves and bring their best."

The last time Canada hired new astronauts was 2009, when it chose Saint-Jacques of Quebec City and Hansen of London, Ont. Both have been training ever since, but neither has flown in space.

The government announced in May that St-Jacques, 46, has been booked on a Russian Soyuz rocket that blasts off for the International Space Station in November 2018. Hansen, 40, is expected to fly into space by 2024.

Despite the fact that Hansen hasn't yet flown in space, he said that so far, his experience is "absolutely exceeding the dream," full of amazing experiences such as living under the ocean for a week.

 "And just imagine how excited I am to one day leave our planet and see it from space," he said.

NASA also had a recent astronaut recruiting drive. The U.S. space agency said it received a record 18,300 applications, more than double the previous record of 8,000 for the first space shuttle astronaut class in 1978. 

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