Canada becomes the first nation to formally commit to NASA's Lunar Gateway


VICTORIA, British Columbia – Canada has become the first country to have officially committed to NASA's Lunar Gateway project with a 24-year financial contribution and to develop a new robotic arm. generation, the Canadarm.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday that Canada will join NASA and spend $ 2 billion ($ 1.4 billion) over 24 years for the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway program human vocation in orbit around the moon. like other space programs. The announcement included funding of C $ 150 million over five years for a new lunar exploration accelerator program to help small and medium-sized businesses develop new technologies that can be used and tested in lunar orbit and at the same time. Moon surface in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and health.

Canada will develop and contribute to an intelligent robotic system – Canadarm3 – that will repair and maintain the bridge, Trudeau said. "Canada's historic investment will create good jobs for Canadians, maintain our astronaut program and the vitality of our aerospace industry, while opening up a new field of opportunity for research and innovation in Canada." he declared. "Thanks to Lunar's gateway, Canada will play a major role in one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken."

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine thanked Trudeau in a statement highlighting Canada's past support for the US space program. "We look forward to strengthening our partnership with Canada and the support of many other countries, I am confident, will join and help strengthen our progress on the ambitious goals we have set ourselves in space," he said. he adds.

Artist concept of the Canadian Intelligent Robotic System located outside the bridge, a small space station orbiting the moon. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)
Artist concept of the Canadian Intelligent Robotic System located outside the bridge, a small space station orbiting the moon. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)

Canadian aerospace companies have been lobbying the federal government for years to obtain new funding for space programs. In the fall of 2018, a coalition of space-related organizations, led by MDA that developed the Canadarm, launched a public relations and lobbying campaign with the government to underscore the need for to increase funding for space and participation in the Lunar Gateway project.

MDA, a Maxar Technologies company, has already completed the first concept studies for the Lunar Bridge robotics system on behalf of the Canadian Space Agency. He also conducted a survey of Canadian companies that could be used to provide this capability. Last year he organized his own industry day to meet key suppliers.

MDA states that Canadarm3 robotics on the Lunar Bridge will be critical to the critical operations and maintenance of the new International Space Station, both inside and outside the station. It should have a larger manipulator arm and a smaller dexterity arm, the firm said.

MDA Group President Mike Greenley said more than 500 Canadian companies had participated in the company's robotics program for the International Space Station. "We expect an equally strong and diversified pan-Canadian supply chain to materialize in Canada's commitment to the Lunar Gate, including the powerful Canadian AI community," he said. a statement.

Greenley, in a previous interview with Space News, noted that a new generation of Canadian arm would also make a decisive contribution to the smooth running of the Lunar Bridge, including the assembly of the gateway itself. its ongoing maintenance, capturing the visiting spacecraft.

NASA and the Canadian Space Agency have begun discussions to examine a Canadian contribution to the lunar bridge. Bridenstine met with Sylvain Laporte, president of the Canadian Space Agency, in September, at NASA headquarters, for talks on the project and other potential programs.

Bridenstine pointed out at a forum held on Sept. 7 at the Wilson Center in Washington: "We must take advantage of some of the great capabilities developed by Canada."

He suggested that features, such as a version of the Canadarm2 robotic arm on the International Space Station, could be used for the bridge, to help maintain it when astronauts are not on board. "I hope someday we can have an agreement with a Canadian arm on Gateway," said Bridenstine at the time. "Not only on the outside, but inside, and more robust than ever, so that she can actually help manage the space station when it's cleared."

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