Image Credit: Chris Bowerman

UBCO professor shortlisted for space exploration

Richard Federley is competing to become Canada’s next astronaut

Richard Federley has an insatiable curiosity.

This curiosity led him to the sign-up form to become Canada’s next astronaut.

The 35-year-old teaches chemistry at UBCO and has been listed as one of the 32 candidates competing for two spots at the Canadian Space Agency.

“I definitely have this incredible curiosity and drive to learn and experience as much as possible in my life. That’s kind of pushed me to venture out and try a lot of new things,” said Federley.

Federley is a paraglider extraordinaire and can be seen outside exploring new ventures and trails around Kelowna.

But, for Federley, the ultimate exploration lies in space.

Astronauts are not only explorers of planets, but also of science, testing new inventions and ideas for those down on earth, he said.

“That to me is very appealing to get out and learn things in new areas.”

There’s also the ability to engage the public, to have the opportunity to share his experiences with others, and teach them in new ways.

“I encourage students to follow through on their passion, because even if they ultimately don’t succeed in achieving their dream, the journey towards it is a phenomenal life experience and often the best part” he said.

As a young boy in grade school, Federley always thought being an astronaut would be a pretty cool job.

“As a child, we think of floating and drops of water, but as I got older I saw the social and economic benefit for Canadians,” he said.

His ultimate goal is to help develop technologies and have a chance to give back to Canadians.

In order to become an astronaut, candidates must pass two main assessments.

The first session focused on physical assessments while the second focused on team building, collaboration and one’s ability to respond in situations.

Even though the other candidates are competition, Federley said working with them has been a learning experience.

“They represent Canadians from different walks of life,” he said. “It really is just a fantastic experience, it doesn’t feel like we’re competing at all… we want the person who succeeds to be built up.”

Federley loves the opportunity to be tested, saying he’s got the chance to sample a flavour of what it’s like to be an astronaut.

“Having that opportunity chasing that dream will really enhance our lives,” he said.

Federley has been chosen from more than 3,700 participants. He expects to hear about the final selection this summer.

Watch what it’s like to go through the second training session.

To read the full version of this story, see Wednesday’s edition of the Captial News.

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Richard Federley and his wife, Jannah Mitchell (left) skydiving near Boulder Colorado. - Image Credit: Corey Ochsman.

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