Canadian Space Agency, partners developing plans for lunar space station

Tentative plan would see an SLS rocket travel around the moon unmanned in 2019, then with astronauts

The Canadian Space Agency’s head of space exploration is looking at how the CSA could contribute to a planned mini space station that would orbit the moon.

Gilles Leclerc says Canadian robotics could play a key role on the Deep Space Gateway.

The CSA is working to develop robotic arms as its contribution to a small lunar outpost to be built by international partners in the next decade.

American and Russian space agencies signed a statement long-term space projects, which focus on the so-called deep space gateway. The small space station would be placed in orbit between the Earth and the moon.

“For Canada, the challenge right now is to identify what our contribution could be to humanity’s next step in human exploration,” said Gilles Leclerc, the Canadian agency’s head of space exploration.

“We are defining what Canada will do in the next 30 years in space.”

READ MORE: New image of B.C. smoke from space taken show wildfires

READ MORE: Six from B.C. in space race to become Canada’s next astronaut

Canada and the world’s space agencies are committed to the International Space Station until 2024.

The next destination would be the lunar station — a platform to serve as a staging point to travel to the moon’s surface and eventually, further away.

“The ultimate destination for all partners … is Mars,” Leclerc said.

A natural fit for Canada’s contribution would revolve around robotics.

Leclerc said there are three possibilities: robotic arms, moon rovers and space mining — technologies Canada already develops and could be useful.

Concept studies have started on two robotic arms that will help build and maintain the mini-station.

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. of B.C. has been awarded a $2.75 million contract to work on the new Canadarms.

Paul Fulford, MDA’s product development manager, said the current concept involves an eight-metre manipulator arm and a smaller one-metre arm.

“The CSA are asking that we explore the notion of a small multi-purpose arm — one that could work inside the space station and possibly on the surface of the moon as well,” he said.

Fulford said the new robotic arms could be operating on the lunar outpost in the 2020s, which would help get a Canadian astronaut to the moon.

Leclerc said the future of the station will depend on the means of transportation to get back to the moon. NASA is developing the Space Launch System (SLS), a giant rocket developed with deep space travel in mind.

The SLS would be topped with an Orion capsule with a crew of four.

A tentative plan would see an SLS rocket travel around the moon unmanned in 2019 and another after that to come within three years — this time with astronauts.

“There’s going to be at least three missions to construct the deep space gateway from 2020 to 2026,” Leclerc said, after which the station would be manned.

Canada’s newest astronauts, Jennifer Sidey and Joshua Kutryk, started basic training last month and space flight is at least five years away.

Fellow astronaut David Saint-Jacques is scheduled for a six-month visit to the ISS in November 2018 and colleague Jeremy Hansen could see his own mission between 2020 and 2024.

Leclerc said Canada is also looking at commercially-built capsules by companies like SpaceX to transport its corps.

It comes as the federal government works on a new space strategy, following consultations earlier this year by Canada’s Space Advisory Board.

It released a report suggesting Canada’s space industry has “lost ground” with rapidly changing environment and substantial space investments by other countries.

The board made several recommendations, including one that space be designated as a national strategic asset.

Peter Rakobowchuk, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP Cpl. Cory Lepine pictured at BC Livestock Producers Co. in Kamloops, Nov. 16. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Meet B.C.’s only cowboy cop; a voice for the livestock industry

Cpl. Cory Lepine serves as a bridge between the law and those who make a living off the land

A group of approximately 40 people hit the streets Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020 in Penticton to protest the measures that have been implemented to control the spread of COVID-19. (Jesse Day - Western News)
‘End the lock-down’ protesters hit the streets in Penticton

The group plans to gather every weekend until restrictions have been lifted, organizer says

LeAnne Jakubeit, a prominent Penticton business woman and wife of former Penticton mayor Andrew Jakubeit, has died after a battle with cancer. Her death was announced Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 on The Grooveyard’s Facebook page. (The Grooveyard / Facebook)
Prominent Penticton businesswoman dies after battle with cancer

LeAnne Jakubeit opened iconic Penticton record store The Grooveyard 30 years ago

Bill Dyck, 3 (right) was with Amelia Rutlege, 4, and Otis the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre mascot, balances the envelope with donations he and sister Eloise May raised at their combined birthday party. (Mark Brett - Western News file)
Share a Smile Telethon to support local kids set for tonight

Proceeds support programs for children in the South Okangan

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Kelowna’s Post-Modern Connection performs for Riot on the Roof on the top of the Vernon Parkade Saturday, Aug. 22. The band is scheduled to play in the “Live @ The KCT” series in Kelowna on Dec. 4. (Vernon Public Art Gallery photo)
Kelowna concert series moves online due to new health orders

Rebellious Unicorns series ‘Live @ The KCT’ has moved to an online model until further notice

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna city staff recommend allocation for nearly $8M provincial COVID-19 grant

Staff suggest the funds be used for lost revenues, support for the Kelowna International Airport

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Revelstoke Mountain Resort was voted Best Ski Resort in Canada in the 2020 World Ski Awards. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke Mountain Resort voted best in Canada

The World Ski Awards announced the 2020 winners

Most Read