When people think of outer space travels and explorations, most people think of NASA in the United States. Not many people know that Canada is also very active in space exploration, just like our southern neighbour.
Even though they are less prodigious than their American counterparts, Canada is seen to be one of the leading countries in terms of technologies and advancements in space through their own contributions. They might not have Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, however, Canadian astronauts are still highly competent.
Astronauts receive lots of support from the Canadian government, with the federal government pledging to open more jobs for astronauts in their Canadian Space Agency to strengthen their commitment towards the International Space Station, according to a 2017 report.
Now that we have established that astronauts receive support from the government and are seen well by the public, we will discuss everything you need to know about becoming an astronaut in Canada.
Educational Requirements for Astronauts in Canada
Those aspiring to pursue a career in Canadian aeronautics as an astronaut must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or science, including other branches such as biology, geology, mathematics, computer science, and physics. A doctorate degree in medicine or dentistry is also acceptable. Still, a bachelor’s degree is enough.
Aside from the educational requirements, those aspiring to become astronauts in Canada must have at least three years of relevant professional experience. This is how it works: a master’s degree is equivalent to a year of professional experience, whereas a doctorate equals three years of professional experience. Alternatively, you must be a licensed medical practitioner in Canada.
There are no licenses required to become an astronaut in Canada or the need to be registered to a regulatory committee in any province or territory.
Those who want to become astronauts in Canada must be fluent in either English or French. However, being bilingual in French and English is an added advantage over other applicants. Also, being an astronaut in Canada is open for people residing in Canada and Canadian citizens living overseas. Still, they give more preference to Canadian citizens.
Astronauts are also expected to perform a wide array of scientific and technical work, so applicants must provide relevant information regarding their education, experience, relevant certifications, expertise, and knowledge in other languages.
Astronauts in Canada undergo a list of very stringent medical requirements. They must be in excellent health before being considered candidates.
Specifically, they must be between 149.5 cm and 190.5 cm in height, weigh between 50 and 95 kg, must have 20/20 vision in each eye, with or without correction such as glasses, contact lenses, and surgeries, and they must not be colour blind. They must have a blood pressure of not higher than 140/90 mmHg when measured sitting, and they must not have any hearing problems.
Once a candidate passes all the requirements, they will undergo a strict training program under the Canadian Space Agency. The basic training includes relevant information about becoming an astronaut in general, such as the history of spaceflight, the International Space Station system, space orientations, and other relevant sciences.
After that, they’ll join the NASA class of astronauts in Houston, Texas, where they’ll undergo an astronaut candidate training flow for two years. They will be exposed to an astronaut’s essential duties and responsibilities, such as going on spacewalks, learning how to use robotics such as Canadarm, learning more about the space station space systems, including its maintenance and repair, and the much-awaited skill of flying in space.
They will also learn how to wear spacesuits properly, and space simulations are frequently used for training. These simulations are for the situations that might happen in space or on other planets, such as air being cut off from the source, spacecraft engine problems, and so on.
Even though Canada has its own space agency, they still go to the US for more intensive and comprehensive training to benefit its astronauts serving in the Canadian space corps.
Astronaut Wages and Salary in Canada
Astronauts are known to be one of the most highly paid professions in Canada due to the nature of their work and the stringent requirements one must meet before becoming an astronaut serving the country.
Astronauts working in Canada earn up to $34 an hour, with bonuses averaging $1,641 as of 2021. They enjoy a yearly salary of $71,658, one of the highest in the country across all provinces and territories.