In this early Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, file photo, a waning moon is seen at the sky over Frankfurt, Germany. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Probst, File

In this early Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, file photo, a waning moon is seen at the sky over Frankfurt, Germany. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Probst, File

Canada inks deal with U.S. to send astronaut around the moon

The treaty includes a commitment to having a Canadian on board when the U.S. conducts a manned flyby of the moon in 2023

The federal government has signed an agreement with the United States to send a Canadian astronaut around the moon as part of a broader effort to establish a new space station above the lunar surface.

Industry Minister Navdeep Bains unveiled the new Gateway Treaty on Wednesday, which formalizes Canada’s involvement in the U.S.-led effort to build that new station known as the Lunar Gateway.

The treaty includes a commitment to having a Canadian on board when the U.S. conducts a manned flyby of the moon in 2023, as well as a second yet-to-be-scheduled flight to the future station.

“Canada will join the U.S. on the first crewed mission to the moon since the Apollo missions,” Bains said during a news conference with Canadian Space Agency astronauts Jeremy Hansen, David Saint-Jacques, Joshua Kutryk and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons.

“Launching in 2023, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut will be part of Artemis 2, the first mission to carry humans to lunar orbit in over 50 years. This will make Canada only the second country after the U.S. to have an astronaut in deep space.”

The new treaty also formally confirms that Canada will contribute a new robotic arm to help with construction of the Lunar Gateway, which will orbit the moon and allow for exploration of the lunar surface and assist future missions to Mars.

The government last week committed $22.8 million toward development of the new Canadarm3 by MDA Canada.

The Canadian Space Agency is one of several partners in the U.S.-led endeavour along with the European Space Agency and their Japanese counterpart. Russia has also expressed an interest in joining.

The Lunar Gateway is projected to be about one-sixth the size of the International Space Station in orbit around the Earth, with plans to build it over the next decade.

Bains did not say how much Canada will spend to participate in the Artemis 2 flight, which will come after an unmanned flyby of the moon that the U.S. has scheduled for next year.

“It’s important to note that we’re a spacefaring nation, and very proud of our space history,” he said. “And this investment with regards to the Artemis 2 program, as well as the overall space strategies, is well over $2 billion over the next 24 years.”

Bains later said in an interview with The Canadian Press that the two flights as well as the Canadarm project and other robotics programs on the Lunar Gateway are included in the nearly $2 billion set aside for space.

The minister defended Ottawa’s planned investment in space, touting the economic and scientific benefits that come from Canada’s involvement in extraterrestrial exploration – a sentiment echoed by some of the astronauts in attendance.

MDA president Mike Greenley made similar comments in an interview following the announcement as he welcomed the new treaty with the U.S. as a win for Canada’s robotics sector and space industry.

“And then the astronauts’ flights are highly, highly motivational for the rest of the country,” he added.

“It’s been clearly demonstrated that the motivation of youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math and STEM professions has been inspired by astronauts in the space program, is high. And so you’re driving the next generation.”

As for the purpose of the Artemis 2 flyby, Kutryk said it will help test the rockets and other systems needed to start work on the Lunar Gateway.

“It’s worth pointing out here that this will be, I think, the farthest and fastest that any human in the history of our species has ever gone,” he said. “And so it’s a very big deal to be able to do just that: get a vehicle that far away and then safely recover it back to Earth.”

They also spoke about the excitement and interest that is generated among young Canadians who may be encouraged to pursue careers in robotics and other areas with potential links to space.

Exactly who will get to fly past the moon has yet to be determined.

“At some point, we will assign a crew and that’s when we’ll find out which Canadian astronaut is going to be selected,” Hansen said.

“One of the things that’s really important to us as an astronaut corps is the word ‘team,’ and that we take on these big challenges together … and it doesn’t turn into a competitive process, but turns into a process of us lifting each other up all the way.

One of the main drivers in the U.S. plan to get back to the moon has been Donald Trump. Bains suggested the president’s imminent departure from the White House next month after losing the November election to Joe Biden does not threaten the program.

“We’ll continue to remain engaged with the Americans,” he said. “But so far, all signals have been positive and we’ve heard nothing to the contrary. There’s a great deal of commitment to this program. And I believe it’s bipartisan.”

While Artemis 2 will not touch down on the moon, the U.S. has plans to land a ship on the lunar surface in 2024.

Bains would not rule out a Canadian being on that trip as well, saying: “Conversations are ongoing, and I wouldn’t necessarily close that door yet.”

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

Craft Brewing and Malting program student Ellie Hadley plans to use her newfound skills and knowledge to set up a distillery in Port Alberni. (PHOTO COURTESY LEE SIMMONS)
Something’s brewing with North Island College’s newest program

Port Alberni grad Ellie Hadley hopes to turn new skills into thriving business

New Vancouver Island University chancellor Judith Sayers was sworn in at a virtual ceremony June 17. (Submitted photo)
VIU’s new chancellor seeks innovation and equality in post-secondary education

Judith Sayers officially sworn in as Vancouver Island University chancellor

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van burst into flames just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Kids from a MOSS Sailing Camp sail just off Canal Waterfront Park in Alberni Inlet during a day camp in August 2014. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
MOSS Sailing camps return to Alberni Valley

One-week camps designed for kids will take place at Sproat Lake

Robert Gunn of Alberni Climate Action loads garbage discovered in the Alberni Inlet around Cous Creek into his canoe during a recent ocean shoreline cleanup. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Alberni Climate Action group creates NIC scholarship

Students attending college full time may apply through NIC

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Photos displayed at a vigil for former Nanaimo outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found June 3 and whose death RCMP are investigating as a homicide. (News Bulletin photo)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read