A Canadian test pilot who missed becoming an astronaut by a couple of spots will soon realize his dream with Virgin Galactic. Jameel Janjua made the final four candidates in the 2009 selection that saw Jeremy Hansen and David St. Jacques selected as Canadian Space Agency astronauts. Since then he’s flown combat missions in Afghanistan as an RCAF exchange pilot with the Royal Air Force and most recently he was assigned to the test pilot program at Edwards Air Force Base. But he gave all that up to go to the bottom of the seniority list to become a pilot of the passenger carrying space planes operated by Virgin Galactic.
Janjua says the company will change the face of space flight by allowing people who are not pilots, engineers and scientists to slip the grip of gravity and he’s looking forward to the results. “What happens when we start taking athletes, songwriters, poets, teachers, grandmothers, people who teach piano?” he told MacLeans. “That’s pretty exciting for society to have [people with] a diverse range of perspectives to look back on Earth, who’ll hopefully use that experience to make it a better place.” Janjua flew chase for the July mission that launched CEO Sir Richard Branson to the edge of space and has since flown the launch aircraft Eve.