Winnipegger shoots for the stars setting sights on becoming Canada's next astronaut

Winnipeg-born Allyson Hindle is shooting for the stars a second time.

"I remember thinking about being an astronaut when I was a kid," Hindle told CBC's Information Radio.

She is in the running to become Canada's next astronaut and is one of 32 candidates left in the Canadian Space Agency process. By the summer, that number will be whittled down to two.

Hindle is a bit of a pro at the process now. Eight years ago she was also a finalist in Canada's astronaut recruitment, the lone woman among the finalists. When she wasn't chosen in that round, she went back to her job and regular life but never stopped thinking of the stars.

"It's been a bit of a wait but I'm really excited to have had the chance to apply one more time," she said.

The biologist and researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School said she'd like to take some of her specialty into space study.

"I study animals here on earth that are adapted to some of our planet's most extreme conditions," she said.  

"I'm interested in trying to figure out how they can do that and how we can maybe pull some of nature's solutions out of the world to apply those things back to human medicine."

Her experiences working in extreme environments like Antarctica have also been good preparation.

She said the dream would be taking some lessons from hibernation and applying them to space travel, but Hindle said that's the big picture.

"But really astronauts are the folks that go up and they operate the equipment and they make the missions happen," she said.

For now she's focusing on making it through the next stage of the selection process which has already included things like written proficiency exams, personal statements and medical reviews.

"They are testing our ability to work in critical situations. They are testing our ability to be good team players. They are assessing our medical. They are evaluating a lot of medical things about us, a lot of fitness things about us and a lot of broad proficiencies," she said.

If Hindle is chosen, she would join the NASA astronaut candidate class in Houston to learn to operate space equipment, spacewalk and to speak Russian. Following the training, she would support current Canadian missions until it was her time to head to space.

Hindle said the competition among candidates is tough.

"Everybody is so impressive. Everybody is so great," she said.

"Canada is going to have two really great astronauts in the summer."

The last time the space agency recruited astronauts was in 2008-09. Jeremy Hansen and David St-Jacques were the successful candidates. St-Jacques is scheduled to be the next Canadian in space in November 2018.