And then there were 17.
The Canadian Space Agency has whittled its pool of potential astronauts down once again as it inches closer to the final two candidates.
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains was on hand in Toronto for Monday’s announcement, saying he was thrilled to be involved and that his own children have shown an interest in space exploration.
“My girls are no different than many young Canadians,” Bains said. “For them we can offer no better role model than our astronauts.”
The finalists now include 12 men and five women, roughly reflecting the ratio of men to women who applied to the program.
WATCH: Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains was on hand for Monday’s announcement of the final 17 candidates
There are five finalists from Ontario, four from Alberta, three from Quebec and one each from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, B.C. and Manitoba. One candidate, Jesse Zroback, is American-born but now lives in Ontario.
Ten of the finalists have some connection to the Canadian Forces. The field includes test pilots, soldiers, medical doctors, engineers, university professors and researchers. All have a strong science background.
Current Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen said the agency is searching for people with whom he would climb into a rocket.
“We really want to know what they’re made of,” Hansen said. “That testing has been grueling for them.”
The competition, being run by the Canadian Space Agency, began last year with over 3,700 applications received. The field was reduced to 72, and then to 32 candidates.
The hopefuls underwent extensive physical, psychological and medical testing. They were put into scenarios where they had to escape a capsule landing in high seas and plug a hole in a flooding compartment, Hansen said and had to learn the basics of operating the Canadarm.
WATCH: Competing to become Canada’s next astronauts
The agency expects to announce its final choices sometime over the summer, but it could be years before those two people actually rocket into space.
Once chosen, they will immediately relocate to Houston, Texas, to begin intensive training.
The CSA’s announcement came at the same time as U.S. President Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, were making a 20-minute call to the International Space Station from Washington.
WATCH: Trump speaks with ISS crew in live video teleconference
Trump congratulated American astronaut Peggy Whitson on her record-breaking stay aboard the station. The president described Whitson’s new U.S. record for most cumulative days in space (535 days) as “incredible.”
He also promised to speed up work to get humans to Mars.
“I’ve been dealing with politicians so much,” Trump said. “I’m so much more impressed with these people.”