Lt.-Col. Joshua Kutryk is proving even the biggest dreams can come true.
Like many young boys, Kutryk dreamed of one day becoming an astronaut.
On July 1, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his dream would become a reality. Kutryk and Jenni Sidey would be Canada's next astronauts.
“I have had this on my mind for the better part of 30 years now. The first time I even remember thinking about it is when I was five or six. I visited the Space Science Centre in Edmonton and saw Canadarm One. It really resonated with me. I knew I wanted to work in that field and that I wanted to try,” he said.
Kutryk was born in Fort Saskatchewan, studying at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, ON, and also in Florida, and Alabama.
He worked as an experimental test pilot and fighter pilot at 4 Wing Cold Lake and as a CF-18 fighter pilot in Bagotville, QC.
His dream of one day reaching the stars was kept a secret until 2008, when he applied to become a part of the Canadian Space Agency for the first time.
“It's a dream you try and stay quiet about, at least I did as a child, because it's a very difficult one. So many things have to go just right that it wouldn't be wise to hinge your life or to hinge your definition of success on whether or not you become an astronaut,” noted Kutryk.
He may not have been chosen the first time around, but Kutryk didn't let that deter him from putting his name into the running again last year.
Like any other job, Kutryk applied for the position. The Canadian Space Agency contacted him letting him know he was moving forward in the process.
He was required to complete mental, physical, cognitive, and skill testing.
Kutryk said he has tried to live his life believing that anything is possible.
“I think it's a good way to live life. I've set myself some very hard goals and this is one of them. If you look at this one; 10, 20, or even 30 years ago when I was a child, I didn't know if it was going to be possible to do it, but there is still a lot of utility, it's still a good way to live.”
He added, “There's a lot of merit to be taken from setting yourself really hard goals like that, because they guide you and give direction to your life. They motivate you to live your life a certain way, which is the way I have lived and the way I have always wanted to live.”
For the next two years, Kutryk and Sidey will be living in Houston, Texas where they will be training at the NASA Johnson Space Centre.
Kutryk hopes to one day travel into space and continue Canada's work exploring.
“For a country that is as tiny and small as we are, we've always had a really successful space program. It's a crowning achievement and I love playing my part in continuing that forward, specifically with the human exploration part, which I think is important.”
Over 3,700 people applied for the job, but only two were chosen to represent Canada out of the ozone.
“It feels really good,” Kutryk said about being selected. “I'm very happy. This is an accomplishment of a life-long dream for me, and a lot of professional dreams as well. I also feel proud, proud to be working for the Canadian Space Agency, and also just proud to be Canadian.”
With the start of the next chapter of his life in sight, Kutryk is over the moon to be achieving a dream 30-years in the making.
“I think it's still sinking in a little bit, but it feels really good. It feels great to be done with the selection process, and it feels even better to be looking at the future.”