In an effort to send humans back to the moon, and to explore Mars, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today, Canada will be participating in NASA’s Lunar Gateway project, and launching an accelerator program for space-related tech.
“With the Lunar Gateway, Canada will play a major role in one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken.”
Canada will be investing $2.05 billion over 24 years towards Canada’s space program. The investment includes $150 million over five years to support a new Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program, which aims to help Canadian SMEs develop new AI, robotics, and health technology to be used in lunar orbit and on the moon’s surface.
The Lunar Gateway is an international initiative that consists of a moon outpost that will serve as a living space for astronauts, a docking station for visiting spacecraft, and laboratories for research. Canada plans to develop a robotic system, dubbed Canadarm3, which will repair and maintain the Gateway.
The Gateway is one-fifth the size of the International Space Station (ISS), and will also assist as a stepping stone for voyages to Mars. It is expected the Gateway will be fully functional and orbiting the moon around 2026.
“With the Lunar Gateway, Canada will play a major role in one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken,” said Trudeau. “Together, with our partners from around the world, we’ll continue to push the boundaries of human ambition, and inspire generations of kids, and adults, to always aim higher and aspire to something greater.”
The government hopes the investment will create hundreds of jobs, including engineers, scientists, and programmers, over the next ten years, and contribute $100 million annually to Canada’s GDP. Canada also expects the investment to help grow Canadian companies by supporting the development of AI tech and widening the market for businesses.
The $150 million denoted for the Lunar Exploration Accelerator, will be run by the Canadian Space Agency. Its goal is to “spur innovation and new technologies that have applications here on Earth, and will help Canadians get prepared for the jobs of tomorrow in the new global space economy.”
The Canadian Space Agency has also announced a new junior astronaut initiative, where Canadian youth will take part on space and science activities while building upon their teamwork and communication skills. Top-performing participants have the chance to attend a space camp at CSA’s headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Québec, and potentially take part in future space missions.
“Thanks to this investment, our Canadian astronauts will have access to new space missions, inspiring generations to come,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science, and economic development. “The Canadian space community will maintain global leadership in robotics, and capitalize on our world-leading expertise in AI, and health.”
Since 2015, the government has invested more than $550 million in Canada’s space sector, which has led to work in the ISS, and providing funding to the Canadian Space Agency to test technology in space. This funding also includes an investment of $100 million over five years in 2018 federal budget to specialize in satellite communication technologies for space. Currently, Canada’s space sector employs about 10,000 skilled workers and generated $2.3 billion for Canada’s economy in 2017.
This article originally appeared in Betakit