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History of the Canadian astronaut corps

In 1974, NASA sought out Canadian expertise for the development of a robotic arm, the famous Canadarm. That marked the beginning of a close collaboration between Canada and the United States in human space flight.

Not long after, NASA invited a Canadian astronaut to participate in a space mission. That invitation led to the creation of the first team of Canadian astronauts in 1983.

In total, Canada has recruited 14 astronauts through four campaigns, and 9 of those exceptional people have participated in 17 space missions.

Learn more about the milestones in the Canadian space adventure!

First astronaut recruitment campaign

More than 4,000 people responded to the call for astronauts in 1983.

First team of Canadian astronauts

The Canadian astronauts selected in 1983. Back row, from left to right: Ken Money, Marc Garneau, Steve MacLean and Bjarni Tryggvason. Front row: Robert Thirsk and Roberta Bondar. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

After a rigorous hiring period, the following people were selected based on their exceptional academic backgrounds, professional experience, health, and communication skills:

Second astronaut recruitment campaign

In 1992, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced that it would recruit four more individuals to undergo astronaut training. Over 5,000 Canadians applied.

After a six-month selection process, four candidates were selected:

Canadian Astronauts (1992)

The four Canadian recruits in 1992. Back row, from left to right: Chris Hadfield, Dave Williams. Front row: Michael McKay, Julie Payette. (Credit: NASA)

Third astronaut recruitment campaign

In March 2008, after some of Canada's seasoned astronauts had retired, the time had come to recruit new members: the CSA launched a new recruitment campaign.

Once again, a large number of Canadians responded: over 5,000 applications were received.

Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Jeremy Hansen

Official photo of CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen. (Credit: CSA)

Canadian Space Agency Astronaut David Saint-Jacques

Official photo of CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques. (Credit: CSA)

After a lengthy selection process that took about a year, Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques were chosen in May 2009. They are now based at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

In , Jeremy Hansen became the first Canadian to be entrusted with leading a NASA astronaut class.

David Saint-Jacques flew to the International Space Station on , as a crewmember of Expedition 58. He spent 204 days in space, the longest Canadian space mission to date.

Fourth astronaut recruitment campaign

In , the CSA announced its fourth astronaut recruitment campaign, and 3,772 people from all provinces and territories applied.

After a year of demanding tests and evaluations, two candidates were selected in to become the new Canadian astronauts:

Joshua Kutryk and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons

The two Canadian recruits in . Left: Joshua Kutryk. Right: Jenni Sidey-Gibbons. (Credit: CSA)

In , the two recruits started their two-year basic training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Joshua and Jenni completed the Astronaut Candidate Training Program and obtained the official title of astronaut in .

Life after space

Retired astronauts don't necessarily stop working! They generally pursue professional activities in line with their expertise.

For example, they can:

Canadian astronaut team (1998)

Back row, from left to right: Robert Thirsk, Marc Garneau, Dave Williams and Julie Payette. Front row, from left to right: Chris Hadfield, Bjarni Tryggvason and Steve MacLean. (Credit: CSA)

Find out more about our former Canadian astronauts and their careers.

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