Joshua Kutryk | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Joshua Kutryk

Joshua Peter Kutryk, astronaut, fighter pilot, engineer (born 21 March 1982 in Fort Saskatchewan, AB). Colonel Kutryk is an active member of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and has served as a test pilot and fighter pilot. In 2017, Kutryk was chosen by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for astronaut training and in 2020 he officially became a Canadian astronaut. No earlier than the beginning of 2025, he will serve on Starliner-1, a six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Canadian astronaut, Joshua Kutryk, 1 July 2017.

Early Life and Education

Joshua Kutryk is of Ukrainian descent and is the son of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer. His family lived in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, until his father retired from the RCMP and then moved to a cattle farm near Beauvallon, Alberta. Kutryk reportedly knew from a young age that he wanted to be an astronaut.  

Kutryk enrolled in the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, and in 2004 graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering (1st Class Distinction). He then attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, graduating in 2009 with a master’s degree in space studies. In 2012, he received a master’s degree in flight test engineering from the United States Air Force’s Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. He returned to the Royal Military College in Kingston and in 2014 received a master’s degree in defence studies.

Air Force Pilot

From 2007 to 2011, Joshua Kutryk served as a CF-18 fighter pilot in the RCAF, flying with the 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron in Bagotville, Quebec. He earned flight certifications for an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), fixed wing experimental test pilot, and civilian and military instructor pilot while logging over 4,000 hours of flying experience on more than 40 types of aircraft.  As of 2012, he worked primarily on the CF-18 as an experimental test pilot at the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment in Cold Lake, Alberta. During his time in the RCAF Kutryk also flew missions in support of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), United Nations (UN) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) commitments around the world and was deployed in both Libya and Afghanistan.

In 2015, he became an operational test pilot at Cold Lake and was leader of the unit responsible for the operational flight testing of fighter aircraft in Canada. He was also an instructor pilot, teaching new recruits to fly the CF-18. He was the officer in charge of fighter evaluations and was responsible for safely conducting the initial airborne evaluations of new systems and technologies on the CF-18. Kutryk worked with a team of aerospace engineers, aircraft technicians, analysts and program managers to make the CF-18 a safer and more efficient aircraft. He worked on a variety of flight test projects, including automated navigation, out-of-control flying, flight control systems, and weapons guidance and control.

Canadian astronauts Joshua Kutryk (left) and Jeremy Hansen (right) in front of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 2017 Canada 150 CF-18 Demonstration Hornet, 10 August 2017.

Canadian Space Agency

Joshua Kutryk first applied to be an astronaut with the CSA in 2008 and was shortlisted to the final 16 (5,350 people applied).   He applied again in 2016 during the CSA’s fourth astronaut recruitment campaign. In July 2017, Kutryk, along with Dr. Jenni Gibbons , was accepted as an astronaut candidate from among 3,772 applicants and 17 finalists. That year, Kutryk and Jenni Gibbons were sent to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to undergo a two-year Astronaut Candidate training program. Training included preparation for possible missions to the ISS, as well as survival and language training.  

Joshua Kutryk and Jenni Gibbons

In 2020, he graduated and officially received the title of astronaut and was appointed to the position of operations officer for the NASA Astronaut Office in Houston, Texas. Kutryk certified as capsule communicator (capcom) — the person in mission control who speaks to the astronauts in space — for the ISS. In 2021, Kutryk was capcom for the ascent and re-entry of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, a spacecraft designed to transport crew and cargo to the ISS and other low-Earth-orbit destinations. He was also engaged in the development of the Starliner spaceship and certification efforts as a test subject and as a member of the flight control team.


In 2023, Joshua Kutryk was assigned to Starliner-1. Scheduled to launch no earlier than the beginning of 2025, this six-month commercial crew mission will bring Kutryk and NASA astronauts to the ISS. As a member of the crew, he will be the first CSA astronaut to participate in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Kutryk will also become the fourth Canadian astronaut to serve in a long-duration mission to the ISS.

Select Awards and Honours

  • Bronze, Governor General’s Academic Medal (2000)
  • General Campaign Star—South-West Asia (2010)
  • Article 5 NATO Medal (2011)
  • Canadian Forces’ Decoration (2012)
  • Liethen-Tittle Award for top test pilot graduate, United States Air Force (2012)
  • Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference delegate (2015)
  • Gold Medal, Royal Canadian Geographical Society (2022)

Further Reading

External Links