Canada announced yesterday that Canadian astronauts will be aboard NASA missions to the moon, and Canadian technology will be used to help build a lunar orbiting station (Marco Ugarte/Associated Press)

Canada is going to the moon!

In 2023, Canada will become only the second country in history to have an astronaut travel in deep space along with the U.S.

In a deal called the Gateway Treaty announced yesterday by federal Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains, a Canadian astronaut will be onboard NASA’s ‘Artemis II’ mission to the moon.

In a press release yesterday Bains said, “This is a significant moment in Canada’s space history. The Canada–U.S. Gateway Treaty takes Canada to the Moon for the first time. Our country will collaborate with the most advanced space organizations in the world on cutting-edge science and technology for the benefit of humankind. As Canada joins the U.S. and other international partners in this great adventure, our continued leadership in space robotics will be a source of national pride – and all eyes will look to the sky as one of our astronauts becomes the first Canadian to travel around the Moon.”

Artist concept of Lunar Gateway station and Orion spacecraft orbiting the moon, with the Earth in the background (NASA)

NASA will first conduct a test mission of the Orion spacecraft to orbit the moon (Artemis i) and then a manned lunar orbital mission in 2023 with a Canadian as part of the crew. There are currently four possible candidates for the mission, Canadian Space Agency astronauts Jeremy Hansen, David Saint-Jacques, Joshua Kutryk and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons the latter two are recent astronaut graduates. Saint-Jacques is the only one of the current group who has been to space as a member aboard the International Space Station in 2018-19.

A Canadian will also be aboard a subsequent mission to a future lunar orbital station called “Lunar Gateway”. This station will be much smaller that the International Space Station orbiting the Earth but will also be used as a science laboratory, test-bed for new technologies and as a base for landings and exploration of the moon, and then potentially as a base for a Mars mission.

The deal between Canada and the U.S. comes after a commitment by Canada to supply robotics to the project such as a Canadarm 3 which will be used to first help build and then maintain the orbiting station. Canada committed $22.8 million for the remote arm which will have the capability through artificial intelligence (AI) to conduct maintenance even when the station is not manned.

Canada had pledged cooperation for the Artemis missions in March 2019.


Canada had pledged cooperation for the Artemis missions in March 2019. It is one of eight countries which have signed on with the U.S. to participate in the Artemis programme including, Australia, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

To date nine Canadian astronauts have flown to space aboard 17 missions.

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