Sunday, February 05, 2017

"Bread and Circuses" and Canada's Astronaut Selection Process

          By Henry Stewart

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has released short biographies and statistics on the remaining seventy-two candidates vying for the two open positions in the Canadian astronaut corps.

Seventy-two candidates from across the country, with three immigrants (Elzbieta Ledwosinska, Peter Lee and Andrew Vorozcovs) and even someone (Jesse Koovik) born in the far north, although he's listed as currently living in Berlin, Germany. Graphic c/o Canadian Space Agency.

As outlined in the February 1st, 2017 CSA post, "Who are the astronaut candidates?," those selected are in the running to become:
...modern-day explorers (who) courageously travel beyond the Earth to help acquire new scientific knowledge. Their courage and determination are an inspiration to many. 
Despite their unique journeys, astronauts have a few things in common: an academic background in science or technology, excellent health, and outstanding qualities and skills. 
The candidates participating in the astronaut selection process also share these attributes.
The Canadian media has jumped on the bandwagon to provide coverage.

Examples include the February 2nd, 2017 CBC News post, "Canadian Space Agency narrows astronaut candidates down to 72," which pointed out that there were 3,772 original applicants for the two positions, the February 1st, 2017 Global News post, "Pool of potential Canadian astronauts down to 72," and the February 1st, 2017 CTV News post, "Meet the 72 candidates shortlisted for two Canadian astronaut jobs."

Regional outlets have also contributed some interesting stories focused around local candidates.

Examples include the February 5th, 2017 The News post, "Man with New Glasgow ties wants to go to space," the February 5th, 2017 CBC News post, "3...2...1...MUN professor on short-list to blast off with Canadian Space Agency," which focused on astronaut hopeful John Jamieson, the February 3rd, 2017 The Now Post, "Six from B.C. in space race to become Canada’s next astronaut," and the February 2nd, 2017 University of Toronto Engineering News post, "Five U of T Engineering alumni make the shortlist to become Canada’s next astronaut."

It's worth noting that the present candidates, to be chosen later this year, likely won't end up going into space until well after 2021, when current CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen is expected to visit the International Space Station (ISS).

By then, who knows how the world might have changed.

Only one thing is certain. While stories about Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and maybe even Marc Garneau are certainly worth telling and remembering, stories about the final 72 candidates in the CSA astronaut program are perhaps less so.

Here's wishing the remaining candidates the best of luck.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

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