Today marks a big day in Canadian history as Ottawa has officially reached a formal deal with Washington to send a Canadian astronaut to the moon.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced a plan last week to send 4 astronauts out of an 18 person-strong pool of astronauts to the moon, under NASA’s Artemis program.
Canada built the Canadarm robotic arms initially installed on U.S. space shuttles and then the I.S.S and will be building similar technology for the Lunar Gateway.
The goal of the Artemis program is to build this “Lunar Gateway”, a space station that will orbit the moon. This space station will operate as a lab, a testbed for new technology, a rendezvous location for moon exploration, and one day as a stepping stone for a voyage to Mars.
The Artemis II mission will be the first lunar mission since Apollo 17, close to 50 years ago.
The potential Canadian astronauts who could be on this lunar mission are Jeremy Hansen, Joshua Kutryk, David Saint-Jacques and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons.
Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation said in his announcement: “As a Canadian, it fills me with pride to think that the next time we see our home planet rising up over the edge of the moon, one of you four will be behind the camera”.
No other country besides the United States has had an astronaut in deep space, so Canada will be making global and scientific history.
“The potential for scientific discovery on the moon with the Lunar Gateway is really exciting,” said Sidey-Gibbons, one of the four potential Canadian astronauts headed on the Artemis II mission. “From mapping the lunar surface to enabling higher definition images of space. The Apollo program was an amazing program that facilitated some incredible science, and we learned a lot about our own planet and our own moon, but we were limited in the sites that we could visit.”
The Artemis II mission will not be taking place until at least 2024, and the initial trip will only be around the moon as a test. The subsequent Artemis III mission will be landing on the surface, and Canada has already been guaranteed that one of the astronauts on this second trip will also be Canadian.