Canadian astronaut finalists include two from Windsor region

Two men from the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent areas could soon reach new heights, literally. 

The Canadian Space Agency announced its 17 finalists in the race to become Canada's next astronaut. They include Adam Sirek from Tecumseh, and Erik Kroeker, who is originally from Chatham.

Kroeker teaches aerospace engineering at the University of Illinois, while Sirek is a family doctor in Windsor. "We all have very unique backgrounds, unique skill sets," said Sirek.

They've had to complete a wide variety of tests from the Space Agency to narrow down the field. 

"Just about everything you could possibly imagine," described Kroeker. "One of the important parts of being an astronaut is being able to deal with new and difficult situations and being able to keep your head about you."

The CSA tests have rivalled other evaluations often considered difficult, say the candidates. "As a physician, trying to get into medical school... also in the air force, nothing matches up with how intense this agency has been," said Sirek.

The potential astronauts have no idea what the final criteria will be to get the chance to blast off into space. "I wish I knew. I think many of the candidates here are wondering exactly that," said Sirek.

The competition began with nearly 3,800 applicants, and it's been narrowed down to a final cut of 12 men and five women. The space agency will pick two from that final 17 to become the next astronauts for Canada.

"You could pick any two of them and they'd be the right choice," said Kroeker.