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Pool of potential Canadian astronauts shrinks again, to 32

Click to play video: 'Competing to become Canada’s next astronauts' Competing to become Canada’s next astronauts
WATCH ABOVE: The Canadian Space Agency is narrowing down its search for Canada's next two astronauts. Mike Armstrong reports – Mar 5, 2017

There are now 32 people left in the running to become one of two newly minted Canadian astronauts.

The competition, being run by the Canadian Space Agency, began last year with over 3,700 applications received. The field was reduced to 72 last month, and that has now been more than halved.

Among those left standing are 21 men and 11 women.

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They include Montreal’s Julie Bellerose, a navigation engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Quebec City’s Marc Evans, a defence technology expert specializing in bomb suits, and High River’s Margriet Greidanus, an emergency room doctor.

The online profiles of each candidate have also gotten more detailed, with their answers to questions about their motivations, current jobs and even their favourite science fiction movies now available on the CSA’s website.

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Astronaut hopeful Andréane Vidal gets set for a swim during the CSA’s aptitude tests. Vidal currently works at the Royal Military College of Canada.
Astronaut hopeful Andréane Vidal gets set for a swim during the CSA’s aptitude tests. Vidal currently works at the Royal Military College of Canada. Canadian Space Agency

“I was sitting around a campfire in the backcountry of Algonquin Park with friends when someone mentioned that the CSA was taking applications for two astronaut positions,” wrote candidate Michelle Whitty, a captain in the Canadian Armed Forces who served in Afghanistan and then completed her medical degree.

“I almost couldn’t contain my excitement.”

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Evan Alexander Beirne Thomas, an associate professor at Portland State University who also runs a nationwide health program in Rwanda, explained that it’s the research and development efforts on the International Space Station that caught his attention. The science being done there could help address problems on Earth, he explained.

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“Clean water, safe sanitation and reliable energy are technical challenges equally relevant in spacecraft and here on Earth, where billions of people’s basic needs are still not met,” he wrote.

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Evan Alexander Beirne Thomas participates in aptitude tests to determine if he’s eligible to become a Canadian astronaut.
Evan Alexander Beirne Thomas participates in aptitude tests to determine if he’s eligible to become a Canadian astronaut. Canadian Space Agency

You can check out the full list of biographies here.

The CSA is expected to announce the final two selections sometime over the summer.

Between now and then, the candidates need to undergo video-conference interviews, extensive medical tests, stress tests, security clearances and final interviews.

The two who are eventually chosen will relocate to Houston, Texas to continue their training in August. It could be years before they actually rocket into space.

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