New astronauts complete basic NASA training

Canada’s two newest astronauts, Lieutenant-Colonel Joshua Kutryk (left) and Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons, graduated from their basic training, along with their NASA classmates, during a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Photo: Canadian Space Agency

Canadian Space Agency

Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts LCol Joshua Kutryk and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons celebrated the end of their basic training, along with their NASA classmates, during a ceremony on January 10, 2020, at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Their class was the first to be supervised by a Canadian astronaut, Col Jeremy Hansen. Kutryk and Hansen have both served at 4 Wing Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake.

Sidey-Gibbons and Kutryk are becoming astronauts at a time when countries around the world are preparing to send humans beyond the International Space Station. Last year, Canada announced its partnership in the Lunar Gateway project with NASA, which is part of the Artemis program that will see the first woman and the next man set foot on the Moon.

Canada’s astronauts are a source of inspiration and pride for Canadians. They inspire the next generation of astronauts, engineers and scientists and continuously engage with young people to encourage them to pursue careers in science-related fields. This year, they are challenging young Canadians across the country to take part in the Junior Astronauts campaign and learn what it is to train like an astronaut and how they can be part of future missions, to the moon and beyond.

“Canada’s astronauts are our modern-day explorers. Not only do they help develop new space technologies, advance scientific knowledge and promote Canada in space, they inspire all Canadians to look to the stars and dream about what is possible,” said Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains. “Jenni and Joshua represent the best of Canada, both with our partners around the world, and our curious young people. I want to warmly congratulate them on completing this rigorous training.”

The CSA selected Sidey-Gibbons and Kutryk to become the next Canadian astronauts in July 2017. They are the CSA’s 13th and 14th astronauts. The astronaut candidates have completed training in spacewalking, robotics, International Space Station systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and Russian language.

Canada’s new Space Strategy guarantees flight opportunities in low Earth orbit for our astronauts and sets the stage for a Canadian to visit the Moon for the first time.

The CSA’s Junior Astronauts campaign aims to get Canadian youth excited about space and science. It is open to young Canadians in grades 6 to 9 during the 2019–2020 school year.

Hansen, from London, Ont. Prior to joining the Canadian Space Program, Hansen served as a CF-18 fighter pilot and held the position of Combat Operations Officer at 4 Wing in Cold Lake. His responsibilities included ensuring the effectiveness of NORAD Air Defense Operations and the operability of Deployed and Forward Operating Locations (Bases).

While waiting for a flight assignment, Hansen represents CSA at NASA, and works at the Mission Control Center as Capcom—the voice between the ground and the International Space Station.

Kutryk was born in Fort Saskatchewan, AB., and raised on a cattle farm. Prior to joining the space program he was a pilot at 4 Wing where he was responsible for fighter evaluations. He was responsible for safety and conducting airborn evaluations of new systems and technology on the CF-18. He has worked extensively as an instructor, teaching other pilots how to fly the CF-18 on demanding missions Sidey-Gibbons was born in Calgary and has a Ph.D in engineering with a focus on combustion from University of Cambridge. She has worked on low-emission combusters for gas turbine engines. She was recruited as an astronaut in 2017 by CSA.