Yellowknife woman on the shortlist to become Canada’s next astronaut – North

Doctor, pilot, teacher, military officer — Yellowknife woman Nathalie Sleno is a jack of all trades.

So when the opportunity came up last year to apply to be one of Canada’s next two astronauts, Sleno says she was “thrilled.”

“I never thought it would be in my time,” she said. “I just couldn’t not apply.”

For Sleno, her path to top 72 out of nearly 4,000 candidates began when she was a young girl.

“I remember as a little girl looking up at the sky, I’d lay down on the grass. My father was a pilot and I used to imagine myself up there.”

Sleno by a NASA rescue vehicle. (Submitted by Nathalie Sleno)

“I couldn’t wait to get up there, and I started flying as soon as I could,” she said. Sleno later became a pilot with the Canadian Forces.

Sleno has a bachelor of science from the University of Alberta where she also completed her residency for family medicine, and a doctorate in medicine from University of Manitoba. She has worked as a researcher of military equipment and ergonomics and later became an instructor, teaching aerospace physiology to pilots and aircrew. Today, she works as a medical officer with the Armed Forces’ ambulance detachment in Yellowknife.  

“I have seven children… they’re all behind me on this one.” 
– Nathalie Sleno

If successful, she would join the two active Canadian astronauts at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, this summer.

“These guys are top of their fields, top of their games. There’s nothing that’s impossible in their minds,” said Sleno.

“I know it sounds cliche but [their work] transcends borders. It would be an exciting place to work.”

Nathalie Sleno is the only candidate shortlisted who lives in the North, making up 1 per cent of all astronaut candidates. (Canadian Space Agency)

The Canadian Space Agency has hired 12 astronauts since 1983.

The 3,772 applicants have been going through a rigorous year-long, multi-tiered selection process that tests physical capabilities, health…

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