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

Five rehabilitated grizzly bears were released this month into the Bella Coola area. The Northern Lights Wildlife Society will also be delivering 36 black bears to areas across the province where they were previously found. “They’re ready to go and they’re already trying to get out,” says Angelika Langen. “We feel good when we can make that possible and they don’t have to stay behind fences for the rest of their lives.” (Northern Lights Wildlife Society Facebook photo)
Suspected methamphetamine and scale seized by police. (Terrace RCMP photo)
Terrace RCMP seize guns, ammo, suspected narcotics

Man released after court appearance

Coho is one of many fish species that will benefit from a project to assess fish passage in the Falls River Watershed and offer options for improved connectivity and habitat restoration. The project will be delivered with funding from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program announced on June 8. (Photo: supplied by FWCP, istock, M.Haring)
More than $2.1 million for Northcoast fish and wildlife projects

Falls River Watershed SE of Prince Rupert to have fish passage and habitat study

Taylor Bachrach, NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley addresses Parliament on June 7, in call for the federal government to stop fighting Indigenous children in court and to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action. (Image: supplied from Facebook)
NDP motion calling for immediate reconciliation action passes

Skeena-Bulkley MP Taylor Bachrach addresses federal Parliament

Unemployment rate drops in northwestern B.C.

Large improvement since Spring 2020

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Most Read