Howie Centre native hoping to become one of Canada’s next astronauts
A Howie Centre native is among those in the running for a job that’s out of this world.
Cordell Grant is one of 72 candidates to become one of Canada’s next astronauts. Those making the final cut are due to be announced in the summer, when they will be due to relocate to Houston, Texas and begin basic training at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre.
“It’s the kind of thing where I’ve been interested in science and space for so long that it’s hard to remember the point at which I became interested in it,” Grant said in an interview Friday. “I have very early memories of being interested in space exploration, the space shuttle … it’s something that kept going throughout my life, I never really lost interest in science.”
When he was considering his options for post-secondary studies, Grant noted he went to what was then the University College of Cape Breton, where his father was a mathematics professor, and spoke to a physics professor who suggested engineering.
“I started looking into what engineers did and the kind of fields they worked in and sort of stumbled across aerospace engineering and that’s where I started really directing my choices toward,” he said.
Grant, 37, is currently the chief operating officer for Sinclair Interplanetary, a position he has held since November, where he designs and builds communications and attitude determination and control hardware for spacecraft. Prior to that, he worked for more than a decade at the University of Toronto.
In addition to a bachelor degree from CBU and engineering degree from Dalhousie, he has a masters degree from University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies.
The married father of two young children first applied to the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut program the last time it put out the call for candidates eight years ago. But, being relatively fresh out of university, he said he didn’t necessarily expect to make the cut at that time.
“I didn’t get nearly as far as I have this time,” Grant said. “I was already working in the aerospace field so I was well aware of what was going on in the Canadian aerospace community and in space in general and I and a lot of other people I knew, it was sort of a natural thing to apply.”
This time around, he said he was able to submit a much better application. In looking at the profiles of the final 72 candidates, Grant noted some common themes emerge.
“Everybody is kind of talking about a desire to explore, that space is sort of that last frontier, there’s so much out there that we just don’t know and to be a part of the exploration of space in a very real way, being an astronaut is exciting to people, they want to be a part of that exploration, that growth of humanity beyond this planet,” he said.
“For me my approach to the application and my approach going forward is it’s one thing to just fantasize about it and people do romanticize it a little bit … but when it comes down to it, it’s years and years of really hard work.”
Grant said he knows if he is selected it will require a lot of training and sacrifice and a lot of time away from his family, but he believes it’s a career for which he would be well-suited.
As for the next stage of the process, Grant said he isn’t able to reveal much publicly, although the candidates are due to soon begin preliminary medical and other tests.
Cordell Grant and an unidentified colleague work on a project together. Grant currently designs and builds communications and attitude determination and control hardware for spacecraft but hopes to make the cut as one of Canada’s next astronauts.
Cordell Grant, a native of Howie Centre, is currently chief operating officer for Sinclair Interplanetary but he hopes to add another title to his CV this year. He is one of 72 candidates from across the country to become one of Canada’s next astronauts.