One of Canada’s astronauts will be sent around the moon as part of a partnership between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), NASA announced today. The two organizations have formally agreed to cooperate on the construction of a lunar space station called Chandra Chandra Marg. The gateway is just one part of NASA’s larger Artemis program, which focuses on landing a woman on the moon by 2024.
A Canadian astronaut will participate in NASA’s planned Artemis II mission, and CSA’s Gateway has a seat on a future flight that will be completed once. CSA states that by joining the Artemis II mission, Canada will become the second country to fly astronauts around the moon. Canada currently has only four active astronauts, and the CSA has not announced who will participate in this partnership.
Artemis I is the unused test of NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), and its Orion capsule. Artemis II will be the system’s first flight with people on board, and during its 10-day mission, the crew will test the spacecraft’s systems on a journey that takes them 4,600 miles farthest to the moon. The plan to actually land on the moon is planned for the next mission, Artemis III.
With the crew, a partnership signed today states that CSA will provide external robotics support for the gateway, including the creation of the Canadarm3, an autonomous robotics system with multiple weapons and detachable equipment. Canadarm3 will inspect and repair the outside of the gateway, visiting vehicles and moving the gateway’s module as it orbits the moon.
The construction and maintenance of the gateway is an important step in NASA’s plan to undertake a long-term footstep on the moon. The Gateway is intended as a research center and stops for long missions on the Moon and in deep space.
Whether NASA can fulfill its ambitious goal of landing people on the moon in 2024 or not. NASA has struggled with budget issues in the creation of the SLS and the Orion capsule has a component failure it is about to carry. Despite the concern, NASA says it will still be able to launch the Artemis I mission in November 2021. Artemis II is planned for 2023 with its new Canadian crew member in tow.