If all goes according to plan, NASA’s most powerful rocket will come back to life on the morning of August 29, as part of the Artemis I mission to the moon.
Although the mission has been halted — the only passengers on the 32-story High-rise Space Launch System (SLS) and the attached Orion capsule are three mannequins — it’s the first moon image of a spacecraft erected by a human since Apollo 17 in December 1972.
The goal of the Artemis program is to return humans to the Moon – and eventually to Mars.
But unlike the Apollo program of the 1960s, Artemis is an international effort. Canada plays a significant role in returning humans to deep space; We’re building a new Canadarm, a spacecraft on the Moon and sending astronauts.
Our country’s role is bigger and better than ever in our calm past filled with space exploration.
Canada was the third country to have a satellite in space. We have sent astronauts to live and work in space. We have equipped spacecraft on Mars with mission instruments and instruments on a spacecraft that map a distant asteroid. We are partners in the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope and supply the instrument that guides it.
And of course, we built the iconic robotic arms – the Canadarm and Canadarm2 – used on the space shuttles and the International Space Station, as we celebrated them on our $5 bill.
We are also going to the moon.
Artemis I’s mission is to test the SLS rocket and Orion capsule. But then comes Artemis II, scheduled for 2024 or 2025, when four astronauts will travel in Orion and orbit the moon.
On that capsule will be an unnamed Canadian astronaut – the first to travel into deep space.
NASA also has plans to build the Moon Gate, a small space station that orbits the Moon. Canada’s Canadarm3, built by MDA, is contributing to this project – and the new arm is more advanced than the originals.
“Canadarm2 is on the International Space Station today. It’s about 400 kilometers from Earth, so a two-hour drive, if you go straight up,” said Holly Johnson, MDA vice president of space operations and robotics. At the Lunar Gateway, which is 400,000 kilometers from Earth.”
With this long journey, she said, the CSA is focusing on “developing” intelligence and artificial intelligence at Canadaarm.
“You have to be more independent, you have to be smarter, because the connection between the Earth and the Moon takes longer.”
Just as the first two Canadian aircraft played an important role in the construction and maintenance of the International Space Station, Canadarm3 will be pivotal in the construction of the new Moon Gate.
MDA is also working with Lockheed Martin and General Motors to provide a robotic arm for a future lunar vehicle.
And when it comes to spacecraft on the lunar surface, Canadian companies are also working on a device that can spend two weeks in the frigid temperatures of a lunar night.
“Canada’s role in space — we’ve been a player from the start,” said Ken Podwalski, Executive Director of Space Exploration and Lunar Gateway Program Director at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
“I just don’t think Canadians … realize how awesome we are. I don’t think they realize what we’ve done with the shuttle program, with our astronauts, with science, our satellite programs, our Earth observation, and the International Space Station.” , He said.
“We have been in this program for 25 years and we have never failed. You have never failed. We are definitely a number one player in space exploration. And Canadians need to know that.”
Chris Gaynor, an astronomer and space historian, said Canada may not be as large or populous as the United States, Europe or China – some of the major players in space – but we are very powerful.
“We don’t spend as much per capita as Americans do,” he said. “But where we’ve been involved in the space, we’ve always been kind of ahead of the curve. We’ve had success when we’ve committed to it and put some resources into it.
“I think that’s the important message: This may not be the first place we play, but we play in the major leagues at a competitive price, I say.”
Industry growth of 470 billion dollars
Canada’s efforts are also about more than just going into space, according to those in the industry. It’s also about investing in the future and jobs here at home.
The global space sector reached $470 billion in 2021 – and it’s growing. “In Canada, it generates $5 million in revenue and creates 20,000 jobs,” said Lisa Campbell, head of the Canadian Space Agency.
“This is also growing,” she said. “More and more young people are attracted to the aerospace industry because it is exciting and interesting. It is science, technology, mathematics, law, project management, finance – you name it. There will be a huge demand in the future for people to work in the aviation sector.”
While it may not be immediately obvious that investing in space will help us here at home, for 65 years here on Earth, there have been benefits pouring in, including cordless vacuuming technology, memory foam, and improved eye surgeries.
Canada’s contributions also had spillovers: Canadarm technology has been adapted and used to support medical robotics, with thousands of procedures being performed in hospitals around the world, Johnson noted.
CSA is also home to a Deep-Space Healthcare Advisory Board, which aims to learn more about human health in space, with the goal of innovating right here at home. And the agency launched the Deep Space Healthcare Challenge, searching for new diagnostic technologies that could serve both deep space missions and those living in remote communities.
“As we discover how to support human health and feed people in space, it will also help us address the challenges we face here on Earth with remote communities, food security, disease detection, prevention and treatment,” he said. Campbell. “Many of the technologies we develop in space help us here on Earth as well.”
A new race for the moon is now underway, Podwalski said, and Canada is a big part of it — and you should make it known.
“As Canadians, we don’t brag enough,” he said.