Canadian astronaut beamed in for visit with Alberta students

EDMONTON — Two Alberta classrooms played host to a special visitor Thursday. Canadian astronaut Joshua Kutryk made a virtual visit to talk about his life, his career, and to take questions from the young students.

The kids from the Prescott Learning Centre in Spruce Grove and Immanuel Christian School in Lethbridge won their chances to meet the spaceman through the Canadian Space Agency’s Junior Astronauts campaign. 

The 38-year-old astronaut is no stranger to Alberta. He grew up not too far from Edmonton.

“Iā€™m from Alberta,” he told the kids “I grew up on a cattle farm in eastern Alberta just out by Vegreville.”

While Kutryk hasn’t left the planet just yet, he’s still come a long way since his farming days.

He worked as a test pilot, fighter pilot and engineer in the Royal Canadian Air Force and flew combat missions in Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets. 

He also has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, master in space studies, master’s in flight test engineering, and master’s in defence studies.

Junior Astronauts

Now, he’s one of Canada’s newest astronauts ā€“ on this day, telling some eager young ears about what the future might have in store for space exploration and an upcoming orbit around the moon.

“That’s in 2023 and there will be a Canadian on it,” he told the kids. “It’s called Artemis 2.”

As for NASA’s current mission on Mars, and the question of finding evidence of life there or elsewhere, Kutryk told the children he believes it’s just a matter of time.

“This last year, three vehicles launched for Mars for that reason, looking for life,” he said. “I certainly think someday, in some generation, we’ll find something.”

Someone in their age-group could be the first human to travel to Mars, the kids heard.

The virtual visitor also told the students about what it takes to become an astronaut in Canada ā€“ about the training in remote locations where help, if needed, will never arrive.

Still, the toughest part for him so far hasn’t been the training missions.

“I speak English. I learned to speak French as an adult,” he told the children. “Russian is a very different language. Learning to speak a third language, that’s hard.”

A tough achievement for Kutryk, but not insurmountable. However, there is one space-related task he deemed impossible after one student asked.

“So the question was, ‘How do you do laundry in space?'” the children heard. “You don’t, it’s too difficult.”

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s David Ewasuk 

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