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Q&A with Joshua Kutryk

What motivated Joshua Kutryk to become an astronaut? Who inspired him? Learn more about Canadian Space Agency astronaut Joshua Kutryk.

Space and exploration

  • Why did you want to become an astronaut?

    As a child I was fascinated with space. I knew that my life would focus on helping explore it. As an adult, I realize human space exploration is important to us all – as individuals and as Canadians. I have always wanted to leave the world a better place than I found it, and I believe that space is one area where I can do this. I want to serve Canadians in a way that fits with my skills and interests. I want to inspire them. I want to help humanity broaden its collective horizon.

Work and studies

  • What motivated you to study in your field?

    Physics and math were my favourite subjects in high school – I was continually amazed by how those subjects explained the world around me. I couldn't fly to space as a child, but I could fly into the atmosphere. I went for a ride in a light aircraft when I was just nine years old. When we landed I knew that I wanted to fly, and that I wanted to understand in detail the science and engineering that made flying possible. I was inspired. My motivation to study aerospace at the highest levels was set.

  • What did you like best about your job as a test pilot?

    As a test pilot, I had a job that combined two of my favourite things: engineering and high-performance flying. I like the challenges of testing new technical systems aboard high-performance jets, and I especially like the teamwork that goes into solving those challenges. I got to work with aerospace engineers, analysts, aircraft technicians, program managers and corporate executives, all with the goal of making the F-18 safer and more effective.

  • What do you consider your greatest achievement?

    Overall, it would be the good balance I am (usually) able to maintain among a challenging variety of family, professional and personal endeavours. Achieving balance in life is difficult, and I try very hard to make that my priority. I am proud of the different experiences I have had and feel lucky to have had them.

Advice and inspiration

  • What is your motto?

    Never despair.

  • What is the best career advice you've ever received?

    Throughout my life, my father would encourage me to seek out new experiences. He believed that pursuing a wide breadth of experience was the key to success. As a child, this meant participating in a lot of extracurricular and community activities, even ones that didn't interest me at the time. As an adult, this advice has served me well, both professionally and personally. I have learned to embrace new, unknown experiences and not to fear them. This advice remains a big factor in all my career decisions.

  • Think back to a teacher who had a positive impact on your life. What did she/he do to influence you?

    When I was in grade six, my teacher (his name was Ted) had just returned to Canada following an extended cycling trip through India. This gave me a glimpse at the kind of exploratory and adventurous life I wanted to live. His stories of riding a bike across a foreign country inspired me and had a very real effect on later decisions I would make. In fact, I still stay in touch with him. He is a principal now at a school in Whitehorse, Yukon, where I was fortunate enough to spend a few of my childhood years.

  • Which living person do you most admire? Or who are your heroes in real life?

    Role models have played an important part in my life. I admire the Canadian astronauts and trailblazers who came before me. When I was a teenager, Neil Armstrong left a big impression on me because he combined academic rigour with test flying to help take humans to the Moon.

CSA astronaut Joshua Kutryk answers 10 flash questions and unveils little known things about himself. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

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