Defence Team personnel are among Canada’s latest astronaut candidates


Seventeen Defence Team members are among an elite group of 72 Canadians who are in the running to become Canada’s next astronaut. They include test pilots, engineers, doctors, a defence scientist, and other professionals and specialists.

To be part of the selection process, candidates must have a background in science or technology and be in excellent health.

In their profiles on the Canadian Space Agency site at, the Defence Team members explained that part of their motivation for becoming astronauts was to encourage young Canadians to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They all dreamed of becoming astronauts since they were children and are motivated by adventure and exploration.

The next steps for the candidates include further evaluations, medical examinations, and a final interview. The names of Canada’s two new astronauts will be announced later this summer by the CSA. The two finalists will join currently serving Canadian astronaut Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremy R. Hansen, who was selected in May 2009.

The Defence Team candidates:

  • Second-Lieutenant Francis Frenzel, RCAF pilot-in-training;
  • Captain Vanessa Fulford, RCAF flight test engineer at the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment;
  • Maj Jameel Janjua, CAF experimental test pilot;
  • Capt Audrey Jordan, RCAF strategy planner;
  • Maj Michael Jordan, lead DND test pilot on the CH148 Cyclone Combined Test Force;
  • Thomas Karakolis, defence scientist at Defence Research and Development Canada;
  • Maj Joshua Kutryk, commanding officer of Fighter Operational Test and Evaluation Flight;
  • Captain David Jean-Charles Leblanc, RCAF multi-engine qualified test pilot with Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment;
  • 2Lt Jason Leuschen, RCAF student pilot;
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Catherine Marchetti, CAF aerospace engineer with the Directorate of Technical Airworthiness and Engineering Support;
  • Lieutenant(N) Kharim Schliewinsky, CAF general duty medical and advanced diving medicine officer;
  • Maj Ross Semeniuk, wing surgeon, 4 Wing Cold Lake;
  • Capt Adam Sirek, family physician and RCAF Reservist;
  • Capt Nathalie Sleno, medical officer and team lead with 1 Field Ambulance Detachment, Yellowknife;
  • Major Geneviève Vallières, CAF aerospace engineer with the Directorate of Aerospace Equipment Program Management (Tactical Aviation and Simulation);
  • Capt Andréane Vidal, officer responsible for research and development of future CAF capabilities; and
  • Capt Michelle Whitty, combat engineering officer who is currently completing her residency in family medicine at the University of Calgary.
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