Technology & Science

Newest Canadian astronauts graduate, ready to fly to the moon

Canada’s two newest astronauts, Jenni Sidey-Gibbons and Joshua Kutryk, graduated today from NASA’s astronaut basic training, making them officially eligible for space flight — and to possibly become the first Canadians on the moon.

Astronauts Jenni Sidey-Gibbons, Joshua Kutryk eligible for space flight to ISS, moon and Mars

Canadian Space Agency astronauts Jenni Sidey-Gibbons, who is from Calgary, and Joshua Kutryk, who is from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., are eligible for space missions to the International Space Station, the moon and Mars after graduating from NASA basic astronaut training on Jan. 10. (Bill Stafford/NASA)

Canada's two newest astronauts, Jenni Sidey-Gibbons and Joshua Kutryk, graduated today from NASA's astronaut basic training, making them officially eligible for space flight — and to possibly become the first Canadians on the moon.

Canadian Space Agency astronauts Sidey-Gibbons, who is from Calgary, and Kutryk, who is from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., have spent two years in Houston with 11 NASA astronaut candidates training in NASA's Artemis program. The program aims to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 and to be a stepping stone for sending humans to Mars.

The students have been learning the skills they'd need to blast off and work in space, from operating robotics systems on the International Space Station to spacewalking to Russian language skills. Completion of the training means they become eligible for space flight, including assignments to the ISS, Artemis missions to the Moon and, ultimately, missions to Mars, NASA said.

The class was taught by Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen — the first Canadian ever to teach it.

Sidey-Gibbons was described by classmate and NASA astronaut Warren Hoberg as someone who sees optimism in all the same things in life and someone he would love to go to space with.

"Jenni is outrageously smart, she's outrageously fun to be around and she's just going to be a fantastic crewmate," he said during the graduation ceremony.

Another NASA classmate, Zena Cardman, said Kutryk made things look easy. Cardman said that anyone would be lucky to fly with Kutryk for his technical skills alone, but that his special talent was making crewmates feel empowered and listened to.

"I think I trust him with my life, just as I trust him to catch the most subtle jokes."

In a video produced by the CSA, both Sidey-Gibbons and Kutryk shared their dreams of going to the moon. 

"Just the thought of the day when we might see a Canadian flag on the moon is something that excites me like nothing else," says Kutryk in the video. "That day is coming."

Sidey-Gibbons and Kutryk were selected in 2017 as Canada's first new astronauts since Hansen and David Saint-Jacques were hired in 2009. 

The newest astronauts may have to wait awhile for their space missions. Saint-Jacques didn't get his first taste of space until December 2018, when he began a six-month stint at the International Space Station. Hansen is still waiting for his first chance to leave Earth.

Sidey-Gibbons was previously an assistant professor in combustion in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, and Kutryk was a Royal Canadian Air Force lieutenant-colonel.

Jenni Sidey-Gibbons and Joshua Kutryk are Canada's newest astronauts, now eligible for space flight 1:51

With files from Justin Hayward

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