Fi­nal fron­tier

Howie Cen­tre na­tive hop­ing to be­come one of Canada’s next as­tro­nauts

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING

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.

PHOTO SUB­MIT­TED BY CORDELL GRANT

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.

PHOTO SUB­MIT­TED BY CORDELL GRANT

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.