Astronaut Joshua Kutryk shares updates about Boeing Starliner mission, personal mission patch 

Avatar for Sean CostelloBy Sean Costello | March 25, 2024

Estimated reading time 6 minutes, 32 seconds.

Canadian astronaut Joshua Kutryk. Sean Costello Photo

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Colonel Joshua Kutryk was in Kingston, Ont., on March 23, presenting to the students and faculty of his alma mater, the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC).

The event served as an early start to RMC Space Week, which will offer presentations and practical learning opportunities during the lead up to the Total Solar Eclipse of April 8, 2024. 

Kutryk began with a 60-minute presentation about his training, development, and professional progression since graduating in 2004, including his many roles within the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) prior to astronaut selection. 

During his remarks, made relatable through school-specific experiences, he described his role as a Canadian within NASA’s astronaut corps, including his sense of pride that as the RCAF is celebrating its centennial in 2024, two RCAF members are assigned to fly very significant off-Earth missions.  

Prior to moving into an open question period, Kutryk expanded on two current topics, including his role during the upcoming NASA Crewed Flight Test (CFT) mission, and the design of his recently released personal mission patch.  

CFT, expected to last approximately two weeks, is being flown in support of certifying the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for long-duration crewed missions—the first being ‘Starliner-1’, to which Kutryk was assigned as crew in 2023. 

Kutryk remarked that his work within the Commercial Crew Program has been immensely satisfying: “I come from a test flying background, and to be involved in this capacity, helping to test, analyze, make better, make fly, a brand-new spacecraft—that’s a dream come true, every single day.” 

Continuing, “on the technical level, it’s been a lot of work. It’s been challenging to make these technologies work. I’m really excited for where we are, and for the fact that we’re looking at flying (Starliner), for the first time with crew, in a couple of weeks.” CFT is currently scheduled to fly in May 2024, launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida, atop an Atlas V rocket. 

Speaking about the personal mission patch, Kutryk was quick to commend and thank his colleagues at the Canadian Space Agency who worked to include many elements and principles which are important to him, in the design. 

“I like things that are simple and subtle, and the patch speaks loudly to both of those.” 

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Colonel (Royal Canadian Air Force, RCAF) Joshua Kutryk visited his alma mater, the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), on Saturday, March 23, 2024. Sean Costello

Kutryk described some of the important elements and references; “The biggest one, and the one that jumps out the most, I hope, is the Maple Leaf. I’m proud, and excited, to be doing this {flying the Starliner-1 mission} as an astronaut with a Canadian patch on my shoulder. It’s not about me, it’s a mission that Canada has earned, because of what we’ve done in space over the last few decades, and because of what we’re trying to do in space now.” 

Kutryk, currently based in Houston, Texas, then provided a nod to his love for his homeland: “Canada is a beautiful country; if I think about where I grew up, the big sky, the mountain—this is the most beautiful country in the world, and that resonates with me. That’s why you see the prairies, the mountains, and the sky.” 

“The Space Station is there of course, because that’s where we’re going, and the Moon because that’s where we want to be going after the Space Station.” 

The design also includes three small stars, representative of his close family members, and at the bottom of the design is an illustration of the Silver Dart. With great respect, Kutryk shared that “the Silver Dart was the first plane to fly in Canada; in the short period of what could have been a single lifetime, Canada and aviation changed so much.”  

Prior to attending a casual reception with attendees, Kutryk reinforced three key messages for the university students to contemplate along their path ahead: take time to have fun, take advantage of your time at the College, but while doing each of those, be sure to still take it seriously. With a chuckle and a reference to his days of sitting in the same classrooms during his time as a student, and then referencing his current self, “you never know where you’re going to end up.” 

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