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Astronaut candidate's profile

The candidates participating in the astronaut selection process all have unique journeys and outstanding qualities and skills. You can read their remarkable profiles here.

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Federley, Richard

Richard Federley

Where were you born?
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada

Where do you currently live?
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada


  • Bachelor's, biology (minor in chemistry) – Lake Superior State University
  • Ph.D., chemistry – Wayne State University

What is your current job?

Chemistry Instructor, University of British Columbia - I instruct courses such as Atmospheric Environmental Chemistry, Aqueous Environmental Chemistry, Atomic and Molecular Chemistry, Physical and Organic Chemistry. I also teach a new course on Project Management for students engaging in undergraduate senior thesis projects and graduate-level projects. I also help instruct first-year chemistry laboratories at Okanagan College.

Why do you want to become an astronaut?

I absolutely love to explore and I have an insatiable curiosity to understand how things work. I want to become an astronaut because I believe my life experiences, education, and scientific knowledge will allow me to significantly contribute to the advancement of science and spaceflight. Venturing into space embodies humans successfully applying all of the STEM disciplines, and is a testament to the daring nature of humans and our ability to work together to achieve a common goal. I would be honoured to represent Canadians as we push to expand our knowledge outside the confines of our Earth.

What motivated you to study in your field?

Science is exciting! It drives innovation and development of technologies, expands our engineering capabilities, and increases our basic understanding of the universe. The application of the STEM disciplines has changed and touched all of our lives, from cell phones to fuel-efficient vehicles and everything in between. It is absolutely fascinating what humans can accomplish when applying scientific principles, and I am thrilled to see what future generations will uncover. This is what initially motivated me to pursue a career in science, and continues to excite me to this day.

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

I have had the good fortune of having several really fantastic teachers throughout my education, and one commonality among the great teachers was their inspiring passion for their subject. The best teachers are bursting at the seams with excitement, and can't wait to tell you of all the wonderful applications and intriguing concepts within their field. This kind of excitement is extremely contagious, and it has definitely rubbed off on me. I have contracted their passion for learning, and it has driven me to study and experience as many of the wonderful things around us as possible.

What do you like best about your job?

There are so many aspects of working in science at the university and college levels that are wonderful: having the opportunity to work with enthusiastic intelligent students, solving puzzles and problems every day, and getting the chance to chat with gifted scientists from an assortment of fields, to name just a few. But overall the best part has to be getting the chance to discuss scientific material and how it relates to students' experiences. I really enjoy speaking with students, hearing their stories, and seeing how what we are learning fits into their daily life.

Which living person do you most admire? OR Who are your heroes in real life?

It may sound cliché but my father was, and still is, someone whom I admire greatly and who has had an extraordinary impact on my life. My father instilled into me to never be afraid to dive into a project, no matter how complex or scary it may appear. He is constantly building things, tearing things apart, and investigating how things work. He is confident in his ability to learn and adapt, and continues to show me that as long as you are smart about what you do, you can accomplish a great deal with what you have at hand.

What is your favourite sci-fi movie?

All of them! Science fiction helps break the mould of common thought and encourages us to consider alternative views, and what the future could possibly hold. Along these lines, my favourite sci-fi movies are typically the ones that are currently only just out of reach, as their stories inspire us by illuminating future possibilities. Take for instance The Martian. This movie helps encourage thoughts of venturing to Mars, something that hopefully won't be in the too-distant future.

What is your motto?

Experience life, and learn everything you can!

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

What is your most treasured possession?

What is your favourite place on Earth?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

What is your favourite book?

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