Moon exploration news

Canada partners in the next chapter in humanity's exploration of space

The Canadian Space Agency invests in Canadian lunar science and technology

The Aristarchus crater on the Moon's surface. (Credit : NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

As part of its efforts to prepare Canada's space community for Moon exploration, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is awarding seven contracts worth a total of $4.36 million to advance concepts for miniaturized rovers and autonomous science instruments.

Developing these key technologies will help enable Canadian science on the surface of the Moon. Funding for the projects stems from the CSA's Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP).

In , Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada was joining efforts to return to the Moon. In addition to fostering opportunities for Canada's space sector through LEAP, the CSA is contributing a smart robotic system, Canadarm3, to the Gateway, a small space station that will orbit the Moon as part of NASA's Artemis program.

Two contracts awarded in preparation for Canadarm3, Canada's contribution to the Lunar Gateway

Credit : NASA

The Canadian Space Agency has awarded two contracts for external robotics interfaces in preparation for Canadarm3, Canada's contribution to the US-led Lunar Gateway.

These interfaces will permit Canadarm3 to attach and operate on the exterior of the Gateway modules.

The first contract is awarded to MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), a Maxar company. The contract covers concept and technology development activities of robotics interfaces for the "exploration large arm," or XLA.

The second contract is also awarded to MDA, a Maxar company. The contract covers concept and technology development activities of robotics interfaces for the smaller "exploration dexterous arm," or XDA.

The contracts have a combined value of approximately $7 million (excluding taxes).

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Canada sets its sights on the Moon

Credit : ESA/NASA

As our planet's only natural satellite, the Moon has considerable pull – not only through its gravitational force, which sets the ceaseless rhythm of the tides, but also as a nightly reminder that other worlds wait to be explored. Fifty years after astronauts first set foot on the Moon's surface, humanity is once again setting its sights on our celestial neighbour.

Canada is proud to join the quest to return to the Moon. The United States-led Lunar Gateway will be the next major international collaboration in space exploration. It is an important part of an ambitious plan by NASA and the other International Space Station partners to send astronauts deeper into space and on to Mars.

Canada's commitment to participating in the Lunar Gateway aligns with our efforts to work in tandem with space agencies, commercial partners, and academic institutions. It is a testament to a shared belief that together, we can push the boundaries of what is possible.

Credit : NASA

Although a common vision drives us, we cannot ignore the challenges that lie ahead.

Sending humans to more distant destinations means longer missions and more time spent outside Earth's protective atmosphere. Crews and missions travelling farther from home will have to be self-reliant, operating with greater degrees of autonomy.

But the next chapter of space exploration is not simply about managing these and other risks. Embracing these new challenges also means seizing a horizon of opportunities for science.

Building a space station around the Moon will allow for a deeper understanding of the possible human health effects of cosmic radiation and solar storms; provide viable access to the lunar surface to conduct cutting-edge science and technology demonstrations; and offer an incredible vantage point for observations of the stars, our Sun, and our planet.

Credit : CSA/NASA

Canada is contributing a highly autonomous smart robotic system to the Gateway. Canadarm3 will use cutting-edge software to perform maintenance tasks, capture visiting vehicles, and enable science both in lunar orbit and on the surface of the Moon.

The Canadian Space Agency is gearing up for other potential roles in future lunar missions by fostering innovation in areas of strength for Canada, like artificial intelligence, robotics and health care technologies.

On the Moon and in the lunar vicinity, Canadian expertise will help humanity develop the technologies and cultivate the skills needed to live and work on another world. This knowledge will be foundational for human exploration deeper into the solar system.

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