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

Old bikes become new trikes at North Deltas’ Seaquam Secondary

High school students will be using bike parts to make three-wheeled human-powered vehicles

Rainfall warning issued across Lower Mainland into the weekend

50 to 70 mm of rain expected to fall starting overnight Friday and into Sunday morning

EXCLUSIVE: Surrey collecting fees on more than 2,400 illegal suites, documents reveal

That works out to more than $1 million in fees collected annually

Delta volunteer honoured with Fraser Health award

Margaret Clarke was among the winners of this year’s Above and Beyond Awards

North Delta Crime Beat: week of Oct. 11

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

VIDEO: Surrey Now-Leader reporter tries on a ‘drunk driving suit’

The suit from Ocean Park Ford emulates what it’s like to get behind the wheel after drinking

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Nerd alert: Science fiction, fantasy and games fans convene in Surrey for VCON

New this year is a Halloween Spook-A-Thon fundraiser at Sheraton hotel in Guildford

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

‘God is a Scottish Drag Queen’ comedy show playing Surrey has drawn flak elsewhere

In Mike Delamont’s solo show, ‘God’ is portrayed as a middle-aged, Scottish auntie

Brick, Leon’s distribution centre opens in Delta

This is the largest single investment in Leon’s history

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

NEW MUSIC VIDEO: Fionn’s ‘Skeleton’ features White Rock twin sisters

Lyric video for song crafted by 604 Records-signed musicians

Most Read