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Historic announcement confirming a vital role for Canada in the Lunar Gateway


Uploaded on December 21, 2020


Historic announcement confirming a vital role for Canada in the Lunar Gateway

2020-12-16 – The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced that Canada has signed the Gateway Treaty with the United States, which guarantees two astronaut flights to the Moon, including one on Artemis II, the first crewed lunar mission since 1972. This mission, planned to launch in 2023, would make Canada the second country to have an astronaut fly around the Moon. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)


Lisa Campbell: Welcome, everyone. Hello, everyone. My name is Lisa Campbell and I am the President of the Canadian Space Agency. Today I would like to welcome the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry; as well as Sherry Romanado, the MP of Longueuil–Charles-LeMoyne. We also have the privilege of having the Canadian Space Agency astronaut corps with us via videoconference: Jeremy Hansen, Joshua Kutryk, David Saint-Jacques and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons. And I would like to say a special hello to our audience watching this event on social media. I joined the CSA three months ago — such an exciting time to be part of the global space community. It feels as if there is a rising tide for space around the world, as more countries attempt greater strides in space, with increasingly bold missions. The global space economy is growing fast, creating great opportunities for Canada’s space sector. I believe space contributes profoundly to our country’s economy, creating jobs of the future and, pushing the limits of science to improve the quality of life of Canadians and people around the world. Today is a very important day for Canada’s space program. A day to celebrate. I’d now like to invite Minister Bains to speak.

Hon. Navdeep Bains: And I thank you, Lisa, and good morning, everyone. I'm honoured to join you today for this historic announcement. And this is actually my first official announcement with the new CSA President. So welcome, Lisa.

Lisa Campbell: Thank you, Minister.

Hon. Navdeep Bains: So Canada, ladies and gentlemen, has a long and proud history in space exploration. The first Canadarm was a fixture of Space Shuttle missions between 1981 and 2011, and we helped build the International Space Station, which has been a permanent outpost for humans for the past 20 years. And the Canadarm2 and Dextre are still critical to the daily operations of this amazing laboratory orbiting the Earth. So today, we are preparing to help build a new outpost which will orbit the Moon. This new outpost will be a thousand times farther from the Earth than the International Space Station. And the Lunar Gateway is the next big international collaboration in human space exploration. It will provide a living space for astronauts, research laboratories, and a mission control for future human exploration of the Moon — and one day, beyond. It's going to be one of the most ambitious projects humanity has ever undertaken. That's why I'm here today to proudly announce: the Canadian Space Agency and NASA have signed the Gateway Treaty, a historic agreement that secures Canada's role in the ambitious project. Unlike the International Space Station, the Gateway will not have a crew of astronauts living and working on board continuously. Instead, our state-of-the-art smart robotic system, Canadarm3, will use artificial intelligence to maintain operations in space when humans are not present. The Gateway Treaty confirms our contribution of Canadarm3 and ensures that all robotic operations will be controlled on the ground right here in Canada for the first time. I'm so proud that Canadians are pioneering this cutting-edge technology. And our space sector is made up of a diverse and dedicated workforce ready to solve space’s unique challenges, from scientists and engineers to technicians and computer programmers. We have the talent and expertise right here in Canada, and we are global leaders in the industry. Indeed, just last week, the Canadian Space Agency awarded a contract to Brampton-based MDA to establish the technical requirements to build Canadarm3. MDA is one of the world's leading robotics companies, known for its excellence and reliability, and this contract with MDA is just the beginning. The agreement we're announcing today will help grow innovative companies of all sizes across the country, and position them to succeed in the global space economy, a fast-growing market projected to triple in size in the next decade. Our investment in Canadarm3 alone is expected to contribute $135 million annually to Canada's GDP — gross domestic product — and create and maintain 1,300 good, well-paying jobs over the next 10 years. But when it comes to Canadian space exploration, we’re not only providing next generation robots. We have also an astronaut corps operating at world-class levels. So just as Canada was the first partner to officially join the Gateway program, I am proud to announce another first. Canada will join the U.S. on the first crewed mission to the Moon since the Apollo missions. Launching in 2023, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut will be part of Artemis II, the first mission to carry humans to lunar orbit in over 50 years. This will make Canada only the second country after the U.S. to have an astronaut in deep space. And send the first Canadian around the Moon. The Treaty also confirms a second, later flight for a Canadian astronaut to the Lunar Gateway. Our work in space is a key example of our Canadian spirit in action, our desire to understand, to learn and to contribute. Canada has led science- and health-related experiments on the International Space Station to advance our understanding of the aging process, improve our approach to chronic care and rehabilitation, and perfect medical technologies inspired by space robots. This research has given rise to discoveries that benefit Canadians and people around the world, and Canada's participation on the Gateway and Artemis II will allow us to continue our tradition of being world leaders in space exploration. It's exciting. It's a start, and it gives us hope for the future in these challenging times. Thank you very much.

Lisa Campbell: Thank you, Minister. Our astronauts are joining us today. Let’s ask them some questions. Josh, you're joining us from Houston today, where NASA's astronaut corps and our international partner astronauts are training. How are your colleagues reacting to this news about our return to the Moon?

Joshua Kutryk: Hi, good morning. Yeah, there's — I mean, there's definitely a lot of work to be done by all of us in developing the technologies and the architectures for these missions. I think that the reaction to that has been one of excitement and pride and probably inspiration as well, so that the international corps here in Houston is over-the-moon excited — I'll say that today — by the prospect of these missions and by the opportunity for scientific discovery and innovation that they represent. As Canadian astronauts, I think that we're particularly proud to be representing Canada in this context, and we're also proud to have built here at the Canadian Space Agency our corps of highly trained and ready professional astronauts, all of whom are ready for these missions and the ones that will follow. And finally, I would say that we're all feeling particularly inspired right now in a way that I hope all Canadians can feel inspired. We’re inspired by the Canadian leadership we see in this bold endeavour to go to the Moon and we're inspired by our history. We've always been on the leading edge of space exploration, going back to our first people with Marc Garneau and Roberta Bondar, and it's inspiring for me to look forward and think that that legacy is going to continue in a way that benefits all Canadians, by taking some of us to the Moon and eventually maybe even beyond.

Lisa Campbell: Thanks very much, Josh. David, tell us how our participation in the International Space Station has set the stage for Gateway.

David Saint-Jacques: Yes, President, it has set the stage. We are building on our heritage of exploring with other nations. Throughout 20 years of continuous human presence on the International Space Station, we have seen an unparalleled level of cooperation between nations. Each partner has our own areas of expertise. As a doctor, I personally am particularly proud that Canada’s research focuses on health—not just for astronauts, but for us all. I never realized how important our work in this area would become in furthering our expertise in remote medicine. I know that Minister Bains envisioned this in the Space Strategy when he asked us to work on telemedicine, but none of us could have predicted we would face COVID-19 in 2020. We’ve been working with experts across the country on leveraging space medicine expertise to improve health care remote delivery and I’m personally really excited about what we can do for Canadians on this front! We’ll develop our expertise further on the planet, improve health outcomes and do it more economically than ever before. Then, Canada will take this worldwide excellence to the Moon and beyond.

Hon. Navdeep Bains: So, I think it's my turn now, Lisa. So I have a question for Jenni. And I vividly recall when we were together in 2017 — yourself, myself and Josh — when we unveiled you to Canadians as we celebrated Canada Day. And that was an exciting moment for me. So, I'm delighted to be here today to speak to you, Jenni. And you're an engineer, and as an engineer, we're really excited about the research we're going to do. So I wanted to get a sense from you: what kind of research will be done on the Moon?

Jenni Sidey-Gibbons: Absolutely. Well, first of all, it's a pleasure to be back with you, Minister Bains. I'm glad that you asked that, because the potential for scientific discovery on the Moon with the Lunar Gateway is really exciting, and it's new and it's varied as well. I mean, it ranges from mapping the lunar surface to enabling higher-definition images of space. And the Apollo program was an amazing program that facilitated some incredible science and we learned a lot about our own planet and our own Moon, but we were limited in the sites that we could visit. Now, what the Lunar Gateway and its orbit is going to allow us to do is to visit a bunch of different sites on the Moon, some of which have liquid or water ice on them. So, we understand now that if we can gain some more expertise and learn about the distribution of water ice on the Moon, we can gain this key insight into the next steps that we need to complete in order to set up sustainable bases on other planetary bodies in our solar system. So that's going to be really cool to find out. Canada’s scientists are also really interested in studying the geological record of the Moon and the geological processes that formed the Moon's surface. Now, that gives us hints not only as to how our own Moon formed, but also lets us know about the composition and the characteristics of other terrestrial planets in our solar system. We learn about other moons, icy moons of other planets, and even smaller objects like asteroids. Finally, I'll also say that the Moon just provides this incredible testbed for us to test things like new rover technologies, and those become these roaming scientific platforms that we can deploy on any other rocky planetary surface we might be able to reach. So there is a lot to learn, and this announcement is pretty exciting, as you say, because it means that Canada and Canadians will be there to help facilitate all of that new science.

Hon. Navdeep Bains: Well, thank you very much, Jenni, for that very thoughtful response, and it's exciting for all the opportunities we have to pursue research in those amazing ways. And I also have a question for Jeremy. Jeremy, when you and I announced Canada’s Space Strategy together in Edmonton, we were both really excited about the opportunities it would create for Canada. And I know you're a passionate explorer and that you share my enthusiasm for harnessing space to help Canadians. And I again, on a personal note, want to thank you for your leadership. You’ve done tremendous work in advancing our Space Strategy and being a tremendous ambassador for us. But when you think of these missions to the Moon, what benefits do you see for Canada?

Jeremy Hansen: So much there, Minister, and I have to say I'm still very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for Canada by continuing to leverage space. You know, when I think about Artemis II, this mission is — it's similar to the Apollo 8 mission in 1968 [unintelligible] when humans [unintelligible] their new spacecraft. As they came around the back side of that famous photo, that photo of the entire globe hanging in the blackness of space, and we saw our entire planet for the first time, its beauty, its fragility. We were reminded that we're all in this together. And this is what excites me about this, is this time when we return to the Moon, our eyes are fixed back on our planet and the challenges that face us right here on Earth. Setting big goals in space exploration — for example, the International Space Station — that has strengthened our ability to collaborate and that same collaboration is required as we tackle big global challenges like climate change, and Canada in my opinion just has so much to offer the global community. As was highlighted multiple times today, space is changing rapidly. The commercial opportunities are immense. There are even new commercial opportunities now around human exploration and even space robotics. What I — you know, what I would really love to communicate to our Canadian youth, Minister, is that they should know that our future in space is bright. We are leveraging decades of experience and commitment to be major players in this emerging economy. I think it is visionary and so important for Canada.

Hon. Navdeep Bains: Thanks, Jeremy, and thank you for your leadership as well. My next question is for Sherry Romanado who is an MP for Longueuil and the Chair of the Industry Committee. Sherry, what does Canada’s commitment to space mean to local businesses and workers who are part of Quebec’s aerospace ecosystem?

Sherry Romanado: Thank you very much, Minister. So as you know, Quebec is a world leader in aerospace. Its industry has close to 200 companies, both big and small; about 20 research centres; and many associations. The Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program, or LEAP, will foster innovation in areas like artificial intelligence, robotics, science and health, and support the commercialization of innovative ideas from Canadian industry. This will mean great opportunities for our aerospace companies here in Quebec. For example, we recently announced that Quebec-based NGC Aerospace Limited received $840,000 in funding to demonstrate a planetary navigation system similar to the GPS technology used here on Earth. Today's a great day for space exploration, and it's an exciting day for Canada. Thank you

Hon. Navdeep Bains: Well, thank you very much, Sherry, and thank you for all the work you do to promote the Canadian Space Agency in the work that you do as a chair of the Industry Committee. Everyone, I just want to conclude by saying this is such an exciting day for Canada. I love that my girls, Nanki and Kirpa, who I think are watching this live, will see a Canadian fly to the Moon in the very near future. David, when this government first made a commitment to take on this challenge, you were on board the Space Station, and it was amazing and inspirational to watch you in space. And now, with today's announcement, I think of the Apollo 8 image Jeremy just spoke of: the Earth as seen from the Moon's orbit. And as a Canadian, that fills me with pride to think that the next time we see our home planet rising up over the edge of the Moon, one of you four will be behind the camera.

Lisa Campbell: Thank you Minister, thank you MP Romanado, and thanks also to our astronauts for participating.


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