Space: Identity of Canada’s two newest astronauts to be known within three or four weeks

Space: Identity of Canada’s two newest astronauts to be known within three or four weeks

MONTREAL — The identity of Canada’s two newest astronauts will be announced within the next three to four weeks, the Canadian Space Agency said Wednesday.

But the pair, who will be joining Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques, won’t have much time to celebrate as they will begin two years of basic training in Houston in August alongside the latest batch of 12 American astronauts.

Canada’s fourth astronaut recruitment campaign received thousands of applications, but the field has been whittled down to five women and 12 men.

No date for the announcement of the two new astronauts has been confirmed and it’s not been revealed whether it will be made in Ottawa, at the agency’s Montreal-area headquarters, or elsewhere.

The 12 Canadian astronauts selected from the three previous campaigns have taken part in 16 space missions.

Only two of them have been women — Roberta Bondar and Julie Payette.

The first team of six Canadian astronauts was created in 1983 after more than 4,000 applications were received. The space roster was at its peak during the summer of 1992 when there were 10 active astronauts.

Saint-Jacques, who was selected with Hansen in 2008, is scheduled to launch on a six-month mission to the International Space Station in November 2018.

Meanwhile, the United States beat Canada to the punch Wednesday, with Vice-President Mike Pence announcing in Houston that 12 new American astronauts will be joining the ranks.

The seven men and five women will join 44 astronauts already in the NASA corps.

More than 18,300 people threw their hats into the space ring. That’s more than double the previous record of 8,000, set in 1978.

Pence noted there have been 338 American astronauts.

“Under President Trump, America will lead again in space and the world will marvel,” he declared.

— With files from The Associated Press

Peter Rakobowchuk, The Canadian Press
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