Now Or Never

Mom, military captain, doctor —and Canada's next astronaut?

Michelle Whitty is a mom, a captain in the military, a doctor, and now she's training to be an astronaut.
Michelle Whitty with Claire and Rachel. (Now or Never)

To say that Michelle Whitty is accomplished would be an understatement.

"I'm a combat engineer, a captain in the military. I'm also a doctor and currently doing my residency in family medicine, and I'm also a mother of three young children; Claire is four, Rachel is two-and-a-half, and Alec is six months," said Whitty.

On top of all this, she's also an astronaut in training.

Of 3,772 people who applied, Whitty is in the top 17 of applicants to the Canadian Space Agency. 

I knew right there that this was for me.- Michelle Whitty 

As a child, Whitty's parents sent her to space camp. There she learned about making rockets, and walking on the moon. That experience stuck with her, so when a friend told her about the opportunity to become an astronaut, she didn't hesitate. 

"I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the opportunity: I was in the back country of Algonquin Park with a whole bunch of other friends and probably 16 kids under the age of six or seven ... and one of the military guys said, 'Have you heard the Canadian Space Agency is looking for applications,' and I knew right there that this was for me." 

Whitty was 20 weeks pregnant at the time, but that didn't deter her. 

Michelle and baby Alec. (Now or Never)

While things have gotten more hectic since making it to the top 17, she's looking at this as an opportunity to show her girls she can be an astronaut and a mother.

Even if you don't change careers, it's still going to be busy, so just do it.

The fact she is a mother, as well as an engineer, a doctor, and a captain in the military helped Whitty see the astronaut job as one she could do.

"If I break down the job of an astronaut, I feel that I have a lot of the qualities that I need and that I've gained over the years," said Whitty.

"A lot of teamwork, a lot of communication skills that I learned through the military, working under a lot of stress and pressure."

Aside from being able to break the job down into its separate parts, Whitty credits a role model she had in the military — a general who had four kids — with inspiring her to take on this challenge.

She also has a "just do it" attitude.

"Life is always going to be busy. Even if you don't change careers, it's still going to be busy, so just do it."