Two newest astronauts moonstruck as Canada looks beyond space station

first_imgMONTREAL – It’s a far-out dream that Canada’s two newest astronauts are hoping will come true: orbiting the moon within the next decade or so.In fact, Joshua Kutryk and Jennifer Sidey are already looking beyond the International Space Station as they begin two years of intense basic training.In an interview from Houston on Tuesday, Kutryk pointed out that Canada is committed to the space station until 2024 along with its international partners.But the 35-year-old Albertan said the plan for what will happen after is already starting to be defined.“We don’t have the details ironed out but we know that it’s going to involve new destinations, probably the moon and then Mars,” said Kutryk, adding he expects Canada to seek out and play a large role.“I think that we’re living in a lifetime now when we see humans, including Canadian humans, potentially going back to the moon and that’s just a super exciting thing for me to think about.”Kutryk told The Canadian Press he would like to be selected for a mission on the space station or a moon exploration mission.“That’s to be determined but I do feel a lot of excitement for the Canadian space program in general,” he said.Sidey, who will be training alongside Kutryk, said travelling around the moon, in so-called cislunar orbit, is on her agenda.“Certainly, I’m definitely in for the idea of deep space (and) longer space flights, kind of pushing what we can do,” she said.“Cislunar for us is going to be incredibly important as a gateway to put people in orbit and eventually go back to the moon.”The 29-year-old Calgary-born astronaut was asked about her chances of orbiting the moon in the coming decades.Her response was: “Who knows, who knows, but I’d love that… who wouldn’t, huh.”But the focus over the next two years will be on understanding various things, including systems on the space station, human behaviour, robotics and survival training.They will also learn Russian.“We’re going to be juggling all sorts of subjects and they’re all very different and they’re all very important (and) keeping all those balls in the air at once is going to be tough,” Sidey said.Kutryk, a test pilot, admitted that learning Russian will be a tough test, noting it took him about 25 years to be comfortable in French.“Based on that experience, and when I look at the idea of learning a third language in two years, that’s something that’s definitely going to be challenging,” he said.On Tuesday, Kutryk and Sidey also joined a dozen American trainees in a link-up with three astronauts now on board the International Space Station.Flight engineer Peggy Whitson, 57, who is on her third long-duration space station mission, had some advice for the group: know how to fix things.“You need to get good at using tools,” Whitson said as she floated inside the space station. “That’ll be an important part of your training, so pay attention to that part of it.“So you can’t be hesitant about taking something apart and putting it back together, because that’s a lot of our job.”last_img

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