Meet Canada’s New Astronaut Candidates

Joshua Kutryk (Credit: CSA)

Joshua Kutryk

  • Date of birth:
  • From: Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada
  • Background: Test pilot, fighter pilot, engineer, lieutenant-colonel in the Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Education: Bachelor in mechanical engineering; master in space studies; master in flight test engineering; master in defence studies
  • Flight certification: Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), fixed wing experimental test pilot, fighter pilot, civilian and military instructor pilot; 2,800 hours of flying experience on more than 25 aircraft types
  • Languages: English, French
  • Mission: Astronaut Candidate Training Program


Personal Data: Born , in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol) Kutryk was raised on a cattle farm in eastern Alberta. He enjoys backcountry skiing, cycling, mountaineering and paragliding.

Education: LCol Kutryk holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering (1st Class Distinction) from the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario (). He also earned a master’s degree in space studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida (), a master’s degree in flight test engineering from the United States Air Force’s Air University in Alabama (), and a master’s degree in defence studies from the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario ().

Organizations: Canadian Armed Forces, to present; Society of Experimental Test Pilots, to present.

Special Honours: Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference Delegate (), Liethen-Tittle Award for top test pilot graduate (), Distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Test Pilot School (), Canadian Forces Decoration (), Article 5 NATO Medal (), Southwest Asia General Campaign Star (), Tristan de Koninck Trophy for F-18 flying skill (), City of Moose Jaw flying trophy (), A.C. Leonard Birchall Award for undergraduate research (), Top Overall Flying Proficiency during primary flight training (), Professional Engineers of Ontario Undergraduate Academic Scholarship (), Right Honourable Don Mazankowski Scholarship (), Governor General’s Academic Medal (), Neil Armstrong Memorial Scholarship (), Alexander Rutherford Scholarship for Academic Achievement ().

Experience: Prior to joining the Canadian Space Program, LCol Kutryk worked as an experimental test pilot and a fighter pilot in Cold Lake, Alberta, where he led the unit responsible for the operational flight-testing of fighter aircraft in Canada.

As the officer in charge of fighter evaluations, he was responsible for safely conducting the initial airborne evaluations of new technologies and systems on the CF-18. He worked with a team of aerospace engineers, analysts, aircraft technicians and program managers in order to make the CF-18 safer and more effective in its mission. LCol Kutryk has worked on a variety of technical flight test projects, ranging from out-of-control flying to automated navigation and flight control systems to weapon guidance and control. In addition, he has worked extensively as an instructor, teaching other pilots how to fly the CF-18 on demanding missions.

In , LCol Kutryk received the prestigious Liethen-Tittle Award from the United States Air Force for being their top test pilot graduate, an award also presented to Colonel Chris Hadfield in .

From to , LCol Kutryk served as a CF-18 fighter pilot with 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron in Bagotville, Quebec. During that time he flew missions in support of NATO, UN and NORAD commitments around the world. He has been deployed in both Libya and Afghanistan.

Jennifer Sidey (Credit: CSA)

Dr. Jennifer (Jenni) Anne MacKinnon Sidey

  • Date of birth:
  • From: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Background: Mechanical engineer, combustion scientist, and lecturer
  • Education: Bachelor in mechanical engineering; Ph.D. in engineering (combustion)
  • Languages: English, basic French
  • Mission: Astronaut Candidate Training Program

Personal Data: Born , in Calgary, Alberta. Dr. Sidey enjoys cycling, rugby and teaching.

Education: Dr. Sidey holds an honours bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec (). While at McGill, she conducted research on flame propagation in microgravity in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the National Research Council Flight Research Laboratory.

She then moved to the United Kingdom (UK) to earn a Ph.D. in engineering with a focus on combustion from the University of Cambridge ().

Organizations: University of Cambridge

Special Honours: Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award (); Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Young Engineer of the Year Award ().

Experience: Prior to joining the Canadian Space Program, Dr. Sidey worked as an assistant professor in internal combustion engines at the Department of Engineering of the University of Cambridge. The focus of her research was flames, how we use them, and how to stop them from emitting harmful pollutants. Precisely, she worked on the development of low-emission combustors for gas turbine engines.

She also taught undergraduate and graduate students in the Energy, Fluid Mechanics and Turbomachinery Division on topics ranging from conventional and alternative energy production to introductory thermodynamics and flame physics.

Aside from these formal responsibilities, she also actively acted as a role model for young women considering technical careers in science-related fields. Most notably, she is the co-founder of the Cambridge chapter of Robogals, a student-run international organization that aims to inspire and empower young women to study STEM through fun and educational initiatives. Through this work, she has taught programming to over 3,000 young girls across the UK. These outreach activities, along with the technical success she achieved in her academic career, led to her receiving the prestigious Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award and a RAEng Young Engineer of the Year Award in .

Astronaut Experience: Dr. Sidey was one of two recruits selected by the CSA in through the fourth Canadian astronaut recruitment campaign.

In , Dr. Sidey will relocate to Houston, Texas, to start the two-year Astronaut Candidate Training Program at the Johnson Space Center as a member of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut class.

The program includes scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station (ISS) systems, simulated extravehicular activities (EVAs, or spacewalks), robotics, physiological training, flight training, Russian language courses, and sea and wilderness survival training.

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