A competition for two new astronaut spots launched by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) received over 3,000 applicants from outstanding Canadians looking to be part of the new frontier in space exploration. From a list of thousands, the race to space is getting narrow, just over a dozen candidates remain. The candidates are as different as their backgrounds and include military personnel, doctors and engineers. Amongst those in the final running to be selected to join the CSA’s elite team is Alex DeLorey, a project manager for the Bruce Power Nuclear Refurbishment and a SNC-Lavalin team member. DeLorey is hoping to be one of the final two to earn a coveted spot with the CSA.
“The round of seventy-two was very physical, testing what you’d need to do to be successful on the job, including a grip test while wearing a space suit which is pressurized. The pressurized suit makes it harder to close your hands and demonstrates the difficulty of using tools in space. The round of thirty-two was survival testing,” according to DeLorey.
The survival testing included a series of drills that involved everything from simulating a helicopter crashing into ocean water to various emergency situations, such as fires and floods. To prepare for the trials, DeLorey spent time with the Milton fire department running through different scenarios that included re-enacting rescuing a person from a burning building; containing hazardous materials and rappelling down three stories on a rope. The man who looks to David Saint-Jacques as the astronaut he admires most, spent last summer learning to scuba dive, skydive and fly an airplane, all of this even before submitting an application.
“I had done quite a bit of research on the last recruitment campaign and tailored my preparation for it. I still fly at least once a week to keep my skills up and once it warms up I’ll try to get some scuba and skydiving in,” said DeLorey. “I have been going to the gym regularly at 6:00 am every weekday for the past four years and I also swim a few times a week.”
His strict regimen includes studying all things space related and keeping up with his French language training, even though he is already bilingual. Then there’s his day job as a Project Manager on the Bruce Power Refurbishment: A background which he believes has helped him in his outer space quest.
“I think it helped prepare me quite a bit. I’ve been on the reactor face for Wolsong (A nuclear power plant in South Korea) breathing out of a tube. The places and the situations are very stressful and they can be dangerous if you make wrong choices and so it has prepared me in that sense,” according to DeLorey. “Nuclear is a small industry but an international industry and I have experience of working with international teams so it’s given me quite a bit of preparation.”
The biggest challenge for this astronaut contender is time management. On top of the tremendous amount of training that has been required to get him this far, he continues to maintain his full-time job as a member of the SNC-Lavalin team. He also makes sure he can get out into the community and engage with students about the importance of pursuing your dreams and he recently became a dad for the first time. To make it all happen, DeLorey relies on a strong support network and he gives credit to his wife for his successes to date.
Recently, the Trump administration signed a bill in support of NASA, support which could see a manned mission to Mars. It’s a mission this Canadian hopes he will be a part of.
“The plans for space missions in the future include sending astronauts beyond the moon for deep space testing and finally further to Mars,” stated DeLorey. “I would most like to be a part of any of those missions and get to be on the call back to Earth to tell everyone that we had made it to the destination and be a part of the excitement that would come from that.”