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Canadian Space Agency

Alberta’s Cosmic Cowboys: One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for (Hu)Mankind 

The Fort Saskatchewan and Calgary Natives On NASA's Next Missions

It’s one giant leap for Albertans. And a big step for (Hu)Mankind. 

Two of our province’s “star players” are set to play integral roles in the future of space exploration.

The Canadian Space Agency just announced that Fort Saskatchewan native Joshua Kutryk will lead the Starliner-1, a six-month commercial mission, to the International Space Station in 2025!

Joshua Kutryk

He’ll be living and working in space the entire time.

Kutryk, who grew up on a rural, northern Albertan cattle farm, has been stargazing since childhood.

“As a child, I was fascinated with space. I knew that my life would focus on helping explore it. As an adult, I realize human space exploration is important to us all – as individuals and as Canadians,” he said.

The mechanical engineer is a triple threat with a master’s in space studies, a master’s in flight test engineering, and a master’s in defence studies! 

He worked as a CF-18 fighter pilot when he was recruited to Canada’s Space Agency in 2017.

Since being recruited, he’s excelled in all his training. 

Starliner-1 will be his first mission off Earth and the first Canadian Space Agency astronaut ever to participate in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The Cosmic News Doesn’t End There!

Can you believe it? 

Not just one, but two people from Alberta are going to space!  

Jenii Gibbons

Jenni Gibbons, a fellow Canadian and proud resident of Calgary, has been selected as the backup astronaut for Jeremy Hansen on the Artemis II moon mission.

If you haven’t heard about Artemis II, it’s the first crewed mission on NASA‘s path to establishing a long-term presence on the Moon for science and exploration. 

The four-person crew will do a 10-day flight designed to test NASA’s deep space exploration capabilities with the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket and Orion spacecraft with astronauts for the first time.

If all goes well, Jeremy Hansen from London, Ontario, will become the first Canadian to venture to the Moon. 

The follow-up mission in 2025 on Artemis III could land another Canadian on the moon, as well as the first woman and the first person of colour.

Jenni Gibbons will play a vital role in supporting Hansen and the Artemis mission: if anything goes awry – she’ll be Hensen’s moon boots.

Gibbons reflected on how honoured she feels to have been selected.”For me, it’s a privilege to be support for astronaut Jeremy Hansen for the lunar mission.”[Canada is] the only international partner assigned to the most critically important mission NASA has planned in over 50 years — human spaceflights return to the moon.”

It’s no surprise Gibbon’s been tabled for the job. Much like Kutryk, she’s got one heck of a resume.

Jeremy Hanson

She has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and is a combustion scientist.

She worked as a professor in internal combustion engines at the Department of Engineering of the University of Cambridge.

There, she taught topics ranging from conventional and alternative energy production to thermodynamics and flame physics before being recruited to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Since working for the CSA and going through her astronaut training,  she’s managed the mission control console for the International Space Station.

She’s also acted as a ground communicator for numerous space walks and solar array upgrade missions and supported orbit crews and families during Expedition 86.

Sheesh.

The mission is a childhood dream for Gibbons as well.

“I wanted to become an astronaut because of the opportunity it provides to learn new things both about our own planet and beyond it.”

These two Alberta astronauts are making their mark both on the world and off.

Their travels echo as individual triumphs, serving as evidence of the destinations hard work and commitment can reach

Blasting off from home, they’ll be landing among the stars.

And we couldn’t be more proud!

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