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72 candidates selected to vie for a spot in Canada's team of astronauts

72 vying to be next Canadian astronaut

OTTAWA — A military fighter pilot, a navigation engineer for NASA, and a doctor specializing in brain and spinal injuries are among the candidates short-listed by the Canadian Space Agency to join the country's team of astronauts.

The space agency released the list Wednesday of the 72 people selected out of the 3,772 applications submitted online for two new spots in its program.

Applications for the new positions were being accepted online until Aug. 15.

The space agency's website lists 70 profiles of the people who made it through the first stage of the selection process. There are 23 women listed and the majority of the candidates are engineers, military personnel or medical professionals.

Genevieve Vallieres, who lives in Ottawa and is an aerospace engineering officer for the Canadian Armed Forces, said becoming an astronaut and going to space was one of her childhood dreams.

She said that dream was "rekindled" in grad school when she went to a lecture by retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

"I thought, 'I can do this!' So, with the support of my husband and children, I applied to the most recent astronaut recruitment campaign," Vallieres wrote.

Another candidate is Calgary native Jameel Janjua, who is on loan to the U.S. air force and stationed in California testing the F-16 fighter jet.

"I would like to be able to reach out to Canadians and help inspire their interest in human exploration and research," reads Janjua's profile online. "I firmly believe in space exploration and what it means for humanity."

The Canadian Space Agency said Canada's next astronauts must have an academic background in science or technology, excellent health, and outstanding qualities and skills. The candidates must also be Canadian residents or Canadian citizens living abroad.

Those qualified for the first selection round will take part in a rigorous selection process lasting almost a year that involves several interviews, written exams and a range of physical and mental fitness tests.

-By Daniela Germano in Toronto

The Canadian Press

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