Male Speaker: The four new astronauts that you see here today will become heroes for the next generation of young Canadians.
Chris Hadfield: The moment I found out that I was actually going to be an astronaut, it was almost surreal, but my real response was one of just relief. All of the work I’d done, all of those pent-up dreams, they were going to come true.
Hi. I’m Chris Hadfield. Over the last 11 months, the Canadian Space Agency has been selecting the most qualified applicants from the over 3,700 people who answered the call to become Canada’s next astronauts.
Now, only a selected few remain, each of them vying to be one of Canada’s two new astronauts. It’s been a long and gruelling selection process, both mentally and physically—a real test of these candidates’ resilience and determination.
Male Speaker: And we are rolling.
Jason Leuschen: Second Lieutenant Jason Leuschen, Pilot, Royal Canadian Air Force.
Charles-Philippe Lajoie: Charles-Philippe Lajoie, Astronomical Optic Scientist.
Michelle Whitty: Captain Michelle Whitty, Combat Engineer, Doctor, Canadian Army.
Alex DeLorey: Alex DeLorey, Project Manager, Professional Engineer, SNC Lavalin.
Joshua Kutryk: Major Joshua Kutryk, Experimental Test Pilot, Royal Canadian Air Force.
Evan Thomas: Evan Thomas, Professor of Engineering and Global Health.
Evan Thomas: The parts of the selection process I found most challenging is just not knowing what’s coming next. In my day job, I don’t jump off of eight-metre platforms or get sunk into a pool and have to escape from a sinking helicopter.
Charles-Philippe Lajoie: We simulated evacuating from a spacecraft in water. We also simulated escaping from a sinking helicopter. These exercises were tough, stressful. It really felt like we were actually training as astronauts.
Michelle Whitty: I was absolutely terrified of this helicopter simulation. I thought that I would get stuck in the helicopter. I thought I was, you know, didn’t really know if I was going to be able to get out, but I did. The simulation happened. I got out of the helicopter, and I was able to confront my fears, and I’m pretty proud of it now.
Jason Leuschen: Keep your hands till the end, you’ll get it started, before you pick up the final pieces.
Jason Leuschen: The parts of the section process I found most challenging were the mental curve balls they kept throwing at us. Quite often, you didn’t really know what you were being judged on, what – how you were being evaluated on the task. Quite often, they weren’t even telling you at the beginning what you’d have to know for the end. So you’d be debriefed at the end, and they’d be asking you questions on things that you had no idea at the beginning you’d have to be paying attention to and thinking about.
Male Speaker: Good morning Chris.
Chris Hadfield: Good morning.
Chris Hadfield: When I went through astronaut selection, it was only about five months long, and we didn’t have a lot of the same practical tests, a lot of the accurate, realistic simulation tests. I think these candidates have had it tougher than I did.
Joshua Kutryk: I think that there’s two kinds of tests involved. There’s physical and mental ones, and the most challenging ones have been instances in where the selection staff have managed to bring those two together. One of the things that comes to my mind is I’m in the pool, I’m in a dry suit, which is a very clunky outfit to be wearing. I come out of the pool, and I’m soaking wet, my heart rate’s very high because I’m exhausted. I’ve been working very physically in this pool, and I get hustled down these different hallways, around corners, through a door, and bam, there’s a desk. Sit down and start your next task. I just remember seeing this needle and this thread and going, “Oh, no, sewing.” And there I was with this predicament—soaking wet, heart rate racing, sweating—and thinking to myself I don’t know how I’m going to do this.
Male Speaker: And that’s your time. Tools down.
Male Speaker: Gotta hurry up. Gotta hurry up.
Alex DeLorey: It’s all really challenging, the physical and the mental tests that they put you through on a daily basis, but it’s the waking up in the morning and not knowing what your schedule is or what the tests are going to be. Also, the waiting in between the rounds, when you’re waiting and expecting to hear whether or not you’ve been invited to the next round is really quite challenging.
Chris Hadfield: When I went through astronaut selection, that helpless waiting drove me crazy. For these talented Canadians, the waiting is almost over.
Jason Leuschen: If I could send a message to a former or active astronaut, it would definitely be Mr. Marc Garneau. He’s the Canadian astronaut who got me started on this whole dream. I got the opportunity to see Mr. Garneau at the Canada-Wide Science Fair when I was in Grade 7, and I looked up to him, and I thought that is the job I want to do. That sounds like the most wonderful job ever.
Alex DeLorey: I would send it to probably Marc Garneau and Roberta Bondar and thank them for paving the way for all of us to follow in their footsteps.
Evan Thomas: I want to send a message to Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques. Just thank you, guys, for all your work in this selection process. It’s been reassuring that even you guys found it challenging sometimes.
Michelle Whitty: I would like to send a message to Julie Payette. I would like to tell her thank you—thank you for inspiring me and giving me the courage and determination to apply to become Canada’s next female astronaut.
Joshua Kutryk: I’d send it to Chris Hadfield. I went to the university that he went to. I went to the test pilot school that he went to. I flew fighter jets for the squadron that he flew for. There’s always been this little reminder of the dream that I have because when I walk into places like that, his picture is quite literally there on the wall, and it’s just sort of become this little instance of him almost saying, “Don’t forget about your dreams.”
Charles-Philippe Lajoie: Colonel Hadfield was the first Canadian to space walk and act as Commander of the International Space Station, and I would thank him for representing Canada with such flying colours.