Becoming an Astronaut

In space, it is critical that each astronaut be able to apply knowledge and skills for a specific mission as well as those that may be needed in the event of unforeseen circumstances. An astronaut must therefore have a wide variety of technical qualifications and interpersonal skills, which are developed through a customized training program that continues throughout his or her career—even during missions.

Astronauts must devote a large portion of their time to training. Once selected by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), astronaut candidates undergo basic training, to earn the title of "astronaut". After completing further training, they are eligible for flight selection. Each crew is carefully chosen based on the specific needs of the flight and the availability of qualified astronauts.

A typical training program for Canadian astronauts would include the following:

Astronauts are expected to maintain their skills at all times. For example, Canadian astronauts on assignment at the CSA in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, are expected to maintain a high level of physical fitness, perform flight and geology field training, keep their Russian language skills up-to-date, and participate in Mobile Servicing System (MSS) activities. Astronauts may also maintain and further develop their skills by working in simulated (or analogue) space missions such as NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO)

RT in Soyuz simulator

In a simulation, CSA astronaut Bob Thirsk learns to fly the Soyuz spacecraft.Thirsk is training as backup Soyuz Flight Engineer with the European SpaceAgency for the Soyuz mission on April 15, 2005.

S.M. with 2 NASA astronauts at JSC

NASA astronauts Brent Jett (left), Daniel Burbank and CSA astronaut Steve MacLean, wearing training versions of the Shuttle launch and entry suit, observe fellow crewmembers during an emergency egress training session in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near Johnson Space Center. (Credit: NASA)


CSA Astronaut Bob Thirsk and a fellow NASA crewmember test technologies and procedures for planetary exploration during the NEEMO 7 mission, a simulated space mission that took place in an undersea laboratory off the Florida coast in October 2004.