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.

Just Posted

One suspect sought by Leduc RCMP after bank robbery

Leduc RCMP seek public assistance for robbery

High water around Pigeon Lake area Apr. 22

PHOTO STORY Lots of snow melt means lots of water running…

Fertilizer needs for spring in Wetaskiwin area

How to assess your winter wheat in Wetaskiwin area

Fake bottom in container nets cocaine, meth: RCMP

Maskwacis RCMP traffic stop leads to trafficking charges

WCHS student attends Forum for Young Canadians

Notes from the Apr. 10 meeting of board of trustees

Toronto van attack suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder

The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others on Monday is a 25-year-old man named Alek Minassian

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

Turning vehicles into deadly weapons is easy and cheap, expert says

Not all recent vehicle attacks have been linked to terror groups, says Candyce Kelshall

Toronto van attack accused was briefly in Canadian Armed Forces

Alek Minassian was a member of the forces from Aug. 23, 2017 until Oct. 25

Cause of plane crash that killed former Alberta premier Jim Prentice to be released

The findings of investigation into the plane crash that killed four set to be released.

‘Enough is enough’: G7 ministers agree to call Russia out

‘Enough is enough’: G7 ministers agree to call Russia out on ‘malign’ behaviour

Cosby jury to decide: Serial rapist or con artist’s mark

Bill Cosby is at the courthouse Tuesday morning ahead of closing arguments in his sexual assault retrial.

Trump: ‘Our hearts are with the grieving families in Canada’

U.S. President Donald Trump is offering his condolences to Canadians

Most Read