Canada has signed an agreement with the US to send a Canadian astronaut around the moon in 2023, Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and industry, has said.
At a video news conference on Wednesday, Bains unveiled the Gateway Treaty, which formalises Canada’s involvement in the US-led effort to build a new international space station above the moon surface to allow for exploration and future missions to Mars, Xinhua reported.
The treaty includes a commitment to having a Canadian on board when the US conducts a flyby of the moon in 2023, as well as a second flight to the future station. It will not include a moon landing.
“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 US to have an astronaut in deep space,” Bains told the news conference with a few Canadian Space Agency astronauts.
Under the treaty, Canada will contribute a new robotic arm to help with the construction of the Lunar Gateway, which will orbit the moon and allow for exploration of the lunar surface and assist future missions to Mars.
Bains did not say how much it will cost Canada to participate in the Artemis 2 flight, which will follow an unmanned flyby of the moon that the United States has scheduled for next year.
Earlier this month, Canada committed 22.8 million Canadian dollars to the first phase of developing Canadarm 3, a new robotic arm that will be used on the moon station.
“It’s important to note that we’re a spacefaring nation, and very proud of our space history,” the Canadian minister said. “And this investment with regards to the Artemis 2 program, as well as the overall space strategies is well over two billion Canadian dollars over the next 24 years.”
The Canadian Space Agency is one of several partners in the US-led endeavor along with the European Space Agency and their Japanese counterpart.