Meet 5 wannabe astronauts who responded to Canadian Space Agency’s call for candidates


[Canada’s space agency began a recruitment drive in June for two more astronauts to join its current pair of active astronauts. NASA]

Ever wondered if you have “the right stuff” to become a Canadian astronaut? At least 3,300 individuals believe they have what it takes and have applied to become one through the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), which is recruiting until the end of Monday.

The CSA has detailed some requirements: “exceptional people with excellent health; a university education in science, engineering or medicine; and extensive knowledge and experience.”

You must be a Canadian citizen who is fluent in one of the two official languages (bilingualism preferred), at least a bachelor’s degree with three years of relevant professional experience in addition to medical and physical requirements and education that covers science and technical knowledge (engineering or physics, chemistry, biology, geology, mathematics and computer science).

There are some personal qualities the space agency is also seeking: integrity, sound judgment, ability to speak well in pubic, skilled in communicating clearly and resourcefulness.

Two people will be chosen (approximate date “summer 2017″ according to the CSA website) and they will be required to move to Houston in August 2017.

READ MORE: Do you have what it takes? Take Yahoo Canada News’ astronaut quiz and find out.

Below are five Canadians who believe they’ve got what it takes to be Canada’s next space explorer.


[Kris Lehnhardt/Twitter]

Kris Lehnhardt, 39, born in Toronto - grew up in Matawatchan, Ont.

Education: Honours bachelor of science (bio-medical sciences), University of Guelph (1995-1999). Doctor of medicine, Western University (1999-2003). Post-graduate in emergency medicine, Western University (2003-2008).


Why do you think you would make a good candidate? “In today’s space community, the ideal astronaut is an individual who is both a leader and a follower, who has a breadth of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary experiences, and who can be an excellent representative of Canada. Other requirements for this job include substantial technical knowledge and skills, as well as the ability to remain calm under pressure. As a physician who specializes in emergency medicine and aerospace medicine, I believe that I possess all of these qualities.”


[Karen Lee-Waddell/Facebook]

Karen Lee-Waddell, 32, Hamilton, Ont.

Education: Honours bachelor of science (astrophysics specialization), McMaster University. Honours bachelor of arts (classics), McMaster University. Master’s of science (space sciences), Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ont., and a doctorate in physics (astrophysics and astronomy) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

Why do you think you would make a good candidate? “I love space! I’m currently a postdoctoral fellow in Australia working with the new ASKAP telescope that is being built here. I study galaxy interactions in order to better understand the formation and evolution of our universe. I also joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a reservist over 10 years ago to develop my physical, mental and emotional fortitude. I hope that my motivation and knowledge will be an asset to the Canadian Space Agency.”


[Photo courtesy Ryan Kobrick]

Ryan Kobrick, Toronto

Education: PhD in aerospace engineering sciences (Bioastronautics) (2010) University of Colorado at Boulder (CU). Master of science (M.S.) in aerospace engineering [2005] Pennsylvania State University (PSU). Master’s of space studies (MSS ’03) [2003] International Space University (ISU), Strasbourg, France. Bachelor of applied science (B.Sc. Honours) in mechanical engineering [2002] Queen’s University.


Biography: Kobrick was recently appointed assistant professor of commercial space operations at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., with teaching duties and research in the new ERAU Spacesuit Lab. He is doing research with the ERAU Spacesuit Lab and in the future, will focus his PhD research on lunar dust abrasion and spacecraft design and operations. He is also chairman of the board and president of Yuri’s Night, a U.S. 501©3 non-profit organization which aims to connect people around the world to celebrate and honour the past of human spaceflight, according to his website.

Why do you think you would make a good candidate? “I have pursued human spaceflight research opportunities [throughout my life], fueled by my passion to cultivate commercial activities, technology readiness and innovation for exploration. The opportunity to represent Canada, and the planet, in such a prestigious and extraordinary position as an astronaut has been my dream ever since I was a young stargazer and it has guided my journey. I believe that I would make an excellent astronaut because I am highly motivated to contribute to human spaceflight, a fast learner, a quick adapter with strong situational awareness, an avid explorer, and I intensely focus on any task…Being a CSA astronaut is more than just a notable profession; it is a life decision to be an ambassador and leader for the Canadian space program, Canada and the world. My abilities, high energy and communication skills make me a prime candidate.”


[Photo courtesy Varuna Prakash]

Varuna Prakash, 28, originally from India, grew up in Hong Kong, in Toronto for 14 years

Education: Bachelor’s in materials engineering from the University of Toronto (graduated 2008), master’s in clinical engineering (2010), University of Toronto. Currently wrapping up a medical degree at the same university along with a master’s in systems leadership and innovation.

Why do you think you’d make a good candidate? “I think I bring a great mix of technical engineering skills and medical knowledge — useful for all astronauts. I’ve worked a number of different jobs and lived in many different countries, so I think I’m adaptable and pretty primed for new adventures. I’m passionate about leadership, advocacy and mentorship in STEM fields, and I think astronauts have a strong role and obligation to do all three. Plus, I think it would be super cool for the astronaut program to reflect the diverse and multicultural makeup of Canadian society. I’ve been enthralled by space since I was a very young kid, and this seems like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t miss!”

[Vanessa Béland/Facebook]

Vanessa Béland, 25, of Toronto

Education: B.Sc. in chemistry from Western University with a minor in general English. Currently working towards a PhD in chemistry under the supervision of Paul J. Ragogna at the University of Western Ontario.

Béland, 25, answered Yahoo Canada News’ questions but was soon informed she couldn’t apply since she doesn’t have 20/20 vision. In the true spirit of what a Canadian astronaut should be, she responded with grace and determination. We decided to provide her bio here anyway, including her reaction to being rejected.

Why do you think you would make a good candidate? Before rejection: “I think I would make a good astronaut because I am an enthusiastic person who loves science. I am adventurous and a good problem solver. I know how to recover from failure by moving on with a new plan and am determined to succeed. I am honoured to have the opportunity to apply for the position to train for a mission to the ISS [international space station]!

After rejection: “Minor set back, there is always the option of Lasik surgery in order to be eligible for next time. It’s something I’ll have time to consider as these applications don’t come around very often. I am also more familiar with the application process and now I know what I can do to give myself a better chance. Even if this doesn’t end up panning out, the requirements are a kind of neat bucket list and I’m excited to go after as many as I can from now until the next call for astronauts.”