Frequently asked questions: Consulting Canadians on a framework for future space exploration activities
Here are the frequently asked questions following the webinar organized by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
What is the difference between the Artemis Program and the Artemis Accords?
The Artemis program is NASA's initiative to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by . Although NASA is leading the Artemis program, it is looking to international partners and industry in order to accomplish a sustainable and robust presence on the Moon and prepare for an eventual manned mission to Mars.
The Artemis Accords are a set of principles designed to guide the safe and sustainable exploration and use of outer space. These practical principles are intended to reinforce the core space treaties, in particular the Outer Space Treaty, and provide basic guidelines for safe and sustainable operations that will be refined through practical experience.
What about Russia and China – will they be invited to join?
All interested nations are welcome to sign the Accords. Indeed, as is written in the Accords, "…any State seeking to become a Signatory to these Accords may submit its signature to the Government of the United States for addition to this text," indicating that the Accords are open to everyone. In addition to the original eight signatories, Ukraine has also signed on to the Accords, and other countries have already expressed an interest in joining.
Does Canada's signing of the Artemis Accords signal that the UN is ineffective?
The Accords themselves highlight the importance of cooperation in space through the United Nations. The preamble affirms the importance of compliance with the Outer Space Treaty, as well as "the benefits of coordination via multilateral forums, such as UNCOPUOS to further efforts toward a global consensus on critical issues regarding space exploration and use." The Accords serve to provide further guidance as to how the principles in the Outer Space Treaty may be applied for deep-space exploration.
Canada is a very active and engaged member of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS). We are committed to working multilaterally with other nations at UNCOPUOS and other fora to enhance collaboration in space.
Why isn't Canada taking a more active leadership role in addressing these issues? Canada should be leading efforts a the UN to make sure a new treaty is developed that everyone agrees to with legally binding rules.
Canada continues to play an active role in the United Nations within the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. In fact, Canada chaired the Committee through the preparations for one of the biggest event in decades, the UNISPACE+50 event in . Canada was also a key player in the development of the Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities and was instrumental in seeing them endorsed by the UN General Assembly.
As mentioned in the briefing, the treaties governing outer space activities were developed 50 plus years ago and the international political climate for new treaty development is challenging. Canada will continue to work with international partners, at the UN and elsewhere, to move forward on developing rules for space exploration.
Why didn't Canada sign the moon treaty? Wouldn't signing the moon treaty solve this problem?
Before deciding on a specific path forward or selecting a particular solution, the Government is consulting with Canadians and the international community on how space exploration can be conducted safely and sustainably. We will examine all of the options, informed by stakeholder input, and then determine the appropriate course of action.
Are rules really necessary? Space is so vast, and there are still very few players. Can't we just figure it out as we go?
When Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, there wasn't a need for rules because the crew was there alone. But space exploration today is much different. There are certain sites on the Moon that show more promise for water and oxygen deposits than others, which means that countries could be working in close proximity. So, we need to have some general rules in place to ensure we don't interfere with another country's activities as they have as much right to be there as we do. We also want to make sure we have rules in place so that there will not be any misinterpretation of our plans that could lead to conflict.
How can we ensure that the rules for space exploration are fair? Won't this just be "first-come, first served"? What about countries that are not as advanced?
Canada is a signatory to the Outer Space Treaty and therefore committed to the principle that space exploration and use of outer space, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development. During today's webinar we talked about some of the scientific advances that are a direct result of space programs that have benefited all of humanity, such as advanced water filtration systems and aircraft materials.
Beyond those benefits, organizations like the International Space Exploration Coordination Group, or ISECG, and the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space are developing programs to bring developing countries along as we explore deep space. Canada is active in those efforts.
In addition, we will work within the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to advance the dialogue to establish principles that will ensure all of humanity continues to benefit from space exploration.
Debris Mitigation/Environment/Safety Zones
Aren't safety zones just a "front" for owning parts of space even though that is illegal? What is stopping countries from exploiting this and treating it like ownership?
Safety zones are critical to ensuring safe and sustainable space exploration, but it is also important that they are implemented consistently with this intent. This is an important aspect of this consultation, and we would welcome you feedback on how this can be accomplished.
Why are you only consulting on space exploration? What about rules for other space activities like on-orbit servicing and active debris removal?
The Government of Canada has made important commitments to space exploration missions, including to the Lunar Gateway and the LEAP program, where we know we will be working with international partners. There is an immediate need to work out how best to apply and fulfill our rights and obligations under international space law and how best to implement the general principles in the Artemis Accords to the specific missions we are undertaking.
The Government also committed to reviewing Canada's regulatory framework for space-related activities to ensure they provide timely responses for industry, maintain strategic oversight for national security and enable commercial growth in the Strategy. This, whole-of-government assessment of our existing regulatory structure is on-going and will eventually involve further consultations to ensure we are taking the views of Canadians into consideration.
How can you support mining on the moon? We have already destroyed our planet, and now you want to destroy the rest of the universe. What protections will be in place? You keep saying it will be safe and sustainable but there is a ton of space debris now, and space exploration plans are only going to make it worse.
Space Resource extraction and use is necessary for space exploration missions. The extraction and use of resources of the Moon will initially be to support space exploration, not only on the Moon but also to prepare us for future missions to Mars. It is too complex and costly to bring all the resources necessary for deep-space exploration with us from Earth. That is why we are consulting now on how to make sure these activities are conducted safely and sustainably.
The space treaties provide some assurances that space resource utilisation will be conducted safely and sustainably and we signed the Artemis Accords to provide further guidance. We are committed to promoting those principles within the international community, with the goal of getting wider acceptance of these practical rules. We want to ensure that our actions do what is necessary for the protection, safety and sustainability of our deep-space missions. It is for that reason that we are consulting now to ensure we take the views of Canadians into account as we shape what those rules should be.
On the issue of debris – we agree, space debris should be of genuine concern to all space-faring nations. It is why the Artemis Accords signatories agreed to limit the generation of long-lived harmful debris. It is impossible to conduct space exploration or any space activity without the generation of some space debris, but, we are committed to developing our missions to minimize that impact as much as possible.
Why is the Government of Canada so interested in space exploration when we have so many problems here on Earth?
Space exploration increases our knowledge of our planet and the universe, encourages research and discoveries, and creates new business opportunities here in Canada that improve our daily lives. The webinar covered a number of spin-offs directly attributable to space exploration but here in Canada, one of the best known is the NeuroArm, "an image-guided robotic system that assists neurosurgeons," which was developed based on Canadarm2 technology.
In addition to scientific benefits, economic opportunities related to rapidly improving space technology are growing. "Canada's space sector contributes $2.3 billion to Canada's gross domestic product, directly employs almost 10,000 Canadians, and is one of the most research and development (R&D) intensive sectors in the Canadian economy." As a leader in space science and technology, Canada is poised to benefit from these developments.
When will a Canadian be on the moon?
There are no specific plans to put a Canadian on the moon however, this remains a key goal of the space program. The next major step towards achieving this goal is having a Canadian astronaut in orbit around the Moon as part of the Artemis II flight scheduled for .
What is Canada's position on space mining?
The Government recognizes the need for space resource utilization in order to conduct deep-space exploration. With the plans to conduct missions on the Moon for eventual exploration to Mars, we know we need to plan on using in-situ resources for water, oxygen and fuel.
In addition, there are potential socio-economic benefits of space resource utilization, including the development of technological advancements that may lead to mitigating environmental impacts here on Earth.
What we are working on now, informed by feedback from Canadians, are the rules that will shape how we conduct space resource utilization operations.
When will we see regulations for space in Canada? Didn't the Space Strategy say there would be regulations?
Canada already has regulations for space. The Aeronautics Act addresses launch activities, the Radiocommunication Act governs spectrum, and the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act regulates Earth-sensing satellites. However, the Space Strategy acknowledged that work needs to be done to examine how the existing framework can be modernized to ensure that it provides timely responses for industry, maintains strategic oversight for national security and enables commercial growth. Several departments, across government, are working together on this initiative. Consultations with Canadians will be a key element throughout this process.
The consultations we are currently undertaking on the "rules" for space exploration activities are part of that effort.
What are other countries doing? Can we just do what they are already doing?
In addition to talking to Canadians, we are also talking to other countries, and they have many different views. It is important that we consider, not only what is right for Canada and Canadians, but how we can reach consensus globally. For this reason, we will be working both domestically and internationally to address these important issues.
I have an opinion about Canada's Space Exploration is this the right forum to voice it?
These consultations are specifically designed to address a framework or rules for space exploration, not the plans specifically. However, the CSA is always open to hearing from Canadians on any of our programs. The CSA's website provides an email address for public enquiries and there is even an on-line form you can fill out, if that works better for you.
What are you going to do with the input you receive? Are you going to make a new law? Will there be a report? Will I get a reply to my feedback?
The input received, throughout this consultation process, will be collected and will be captured in a "What we Heard" report. These inputs will inform the consideration of options for how to proceed with strengthening the framework for space exploration activities. It is too soon to say exactly what form that will take but we will keep all those who provided their email address to our consultation mailbox with updates. We will also be providing updates on the consultation website.
It may not be possible to respond directly to all feedback but, where there are common questions, we will include them in a Frequently Asked Questions page on our website. If you wish to speak directly to government representatives, please indicate so in your feedback and we will set up a meeting with you.
What if I need more time to put together my feedback? Is this the only time we can provide input?
We understand that some may need more time to provide a feedback and, we want to assure you that this will not be your last opportunity to feed into this and other processes. I recommend providing your email address if you wish to keep updated.
In addition, the CSA is always open to receiving inputs from Canadians. The CSA's website provides an email address for public enquiries and there is even an on-line form you can fill out, if that is more convenient for you.
What is the best format for making a submission to the consultation?
We are not suggesting any particular format. The submission can be as long or as short as you like. The important thing is that we want to hear from you about a framework for future space exploration activities.
- Consulting Canadians on a framework for future space exploration activities
- Framework for future space exploration activities – background information
- Canada's role in Moon exploration
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