March 16, 2009 was a red letter day in Canada’s space program. The Canadian Space Agency hosted a press conference to introduce the 15 men and 1 woman short-listed in the competition for the 2 next Canadian astronauts.
Along with my astronomer buddy, Andrew Yee, I attended this super event. The venue was Defence R&D Canada in Toronto. Sharp at 1100 in came the 16 hopefuls. After a few brief words from CSA officials, the candidates each introduced themselves, then came an hour of 1-on-1 with these amazing citizens. Looks as if the large media contingent that showed up had a ball with their interviews.
All the nitty-gritty can be found on the CSA website but, in a nutshell, here are the Incredible Sixteen who made the cut in stages (this all began in May 2008 with the 5351 folks who originally applied for the 2 slots):
Matthew Barnsey, BEng aerospace engineer Carleton, MSc aerospace eng. U of Colorado, PhD candidate enviro. biology U of Guelph, researcher CSA.
Desmosd Brophy, BEng McGill, MSC Calgary, studying U of Colorado while an F-16 test pilot on exchange in California Christopher Denny, BA Queen’s, MD MacMaster, MSc epidermiology U of Toronto, trauma doc Sunnybrook, Toronto.
Peter Giles, Bsc physics Dalhousie, MSc & PhD physics Stanford, Olympic kayaker for Canada 1996, works at Gen. Dynamics, was an advisor on Team Canada 2008 Oylmpics Jeremy Hansen, Bsc Space Sci., RMC, MSc physics, RMC, CF-18 pilot Cold Lake, Alberta.
Allyson Hindle, Bsc & MSc zoology U of Manitoba, PhD wildlife & fisheries Texas A&MU, post-doc marine UBC.
Ryan Hunter, Bsc & PhD microbiology U of Guelph, post-doc fellow MIT.
Jameel Janjua, BEng chemistry RMC, MSc aero.astronautics MIT, CF-18 pilot at Bagotville.
Joshua Kutryk, BEng RMC, MSc aeronautics Embry-Riddle Aero. U. CF-18 pilot at Bagotville.
Mark McCullins, BEng chem, MBA Athabasca U. C-130 pilot at Trenton.
Stuart Rogerson, BSc earth obs. sci./computer sci., MASc aerospace U of Toronto. CF-18 pilot, test pilot school applicant.
David St-Jacques BEng Ecole Polytech, Montreal, PhD astrophysics Cambridge, MD Laval, doctoring in far northern Quebec, ass’t prof McGill.
Geoffrey Steeves, BSc & PhD physics U of Alberta, ass’t prof U of Victoria, comm. pilot.
Kenneth Welch, BASc physics UBC, PhD nanotech, Uppsala U, Sweden, researcher Uppsala, and fighter pilot specializing in electronic warfare training.
Keith Wilson, BA comm. RMC, BSc Waterloo, MD U of Manitoba, med student U of M, former helicopter pilot.
Bruce Woodley, BASc physics SFU, MSc & PhD electrical eng. Stanford. Consultant, comm. pilot.
It was an honour to meet this class of stellar Canadians. We in the audience left very much inspired and hopeful for the world’s future. Canada presently has only three active astronauts remaining: Chris Hadfield, Julie Payette and Bob Thirsk. Julie will fly a Shuttle mission this July, Bob is slated for an upcoming 6-month tour on the International Space Station. He will be the first Canadian to launch with the Russians — all other Canadians have been Shuttle crew.