Astronauts Joshua Kutryk and Jenni Gibbons. The Canadian Press/ Sean Kilpatrick

Canadian Space Agency Announced New Astronaut Missions

On Nov. 22, 2023, François-Philippe Champagne, Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), announced the new missions for CSA astronauts

On Nov. 22, 2023, François-Philippe Champagne, Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), announced the new missions for CSA astronauts.

The first announcement was about astronaut candidate Jenni Gibbons, who has been assigned as a backup for the Artemis II mission which will orbit the Moon no earlier than November 2024. As a Canadian backup member, if astronaut Jeremy Hansen is unable to fly on Artemis II, she will be ready to take his place representing Canada during the mission.

During the training, she will contribute to future Artemis missions by validating astronauts’ training and processes. She will also study to provide ground support to Artemis missions as a lunar capcom.

The second announcement was about astronaut candidate Joshua Kutryk, the next CSA astronaut to go to the International Space Station (ISS).

He will also become the first Canadian astronaut to be part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program joining his NASA colleagues Scott Tingle and Mike Fincke (respectively spacecraft commander and pilot) on the Starliner-1, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft’s first operational mission.

Joshua Kutryk will serve as a Mission Specialist during the launch and, during his long-duration stay on the ISS, he will conduct science experiments and technology demonstrations.


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The astronauts

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Joshua Kutryk. Credits: CSA
Canadian Space Agency astronaut Joshua Kutryk. Credits: CSA

Joshua Kutryk is an engineer, fighter pilot, colonel in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and test pilot with over 4,000 flight hours on more than 40 aircraft types.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, 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, and a master’s degree in defense studies.

In 2017, he was one of two astronauts the Canadian Space Agency selected during the fourth Canadian astronaut recruitment campaign. He graduated from Astronaut Candidate Training in 2020 and obtained the official title of astronaut candidate.

In 2021 Joshua Kutryk began working with the Starliner team in Houston and was selected to be the capcom for the ascent and re-entry of the first crewed test flight of the CST-100 Starliner vehicle.

Starliner-1 will be his first space mission; the launch is targeted for no earlier than the beginning of 2025 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jenni Gibbons. Credits: CSA
Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jenni Gibbons. Credits: CSA

Jenni Gibbons is a Mechanical engineer, combustion scientist, and assistant professor.

She holds an honors bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and 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 holds a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Cambridge.

Gibbons is one of two recruits selected by the CSA through the 2017 Canadian astronaut recruitment campaign. She graduated from Astronaut Candidate Training in 2020 and obtained the official title of astronaut candidate.

She is an International Space Station Lead Capcom and supported the on-orbit crew during Expedition 63. Gibbons also works as the ground communicator for spacewalks (EVAs – Extravehicular Activities) and as a mentor for the 2021 Astronaut Class through their EVA training.


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CSA contribution to the ISS and Gateway

In March 2023, the Canadian Space Agency confirmed its commitment to participate in the International Space Station project until 2030 and will collaborate with NASA and other government and commercial space agencies in the Gateway Lunar Station and Artemis programs.

Canada contributed to the construction of the International Space Station by providing the Canadarm2 robotic arm and will participate in the Gateway project by building a next-generation, cutting-edge robotic arm called “Gateway External Robotics Systems” (GERS) also known as Canadarm3.

Canadarm3. Credits: NASA/Alberto Bertolin, Bradley Reynolds
Canadarm3. Credits: NASA/Alberto Bertolin, Bradley Reynolds

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Benedetta Facini

Benedetta Facini

Italian physics student and aspiring astronaut.
I talk about space and astronauts on social media

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