Canada will send astronaut around the moon in deal with U.S.
2023 mission part of Lunar Gateway project to build space station over moon's surface
The federal government says it has signed an agreement with the United States to send a Canadian astronaut around the moon.
The planned trip in 2023 is part of a broader U.S.-led effort to establish a new international space station above the lunar surface to allow for exploration of the moon and future missions to Mars.
The Gateway Treaty unveiled today also calls for a second flight for a Canadian astronaut to that future space station, known as the Lunar Gateway.
"All eyes will look to the sky as one of our astronauts becomes the first Canadian to travel around the moon," Navdeep Bains, Canada's minister of innovation, science and industry, told a video news conference.
"Canada will join the U.S. on the first crewed mission to the moon since the Apollo missions. This will make Canada only the second country after the U.S. to have an astronaut in deep space."
The trip will not include a moon landing.
There are currently four astronauts in the Canadian astronaut corps: David Saint-Jacques, who flew to the International Space Station in 2018; Jeremy Hansen; Jenni Sidey-Gibbons; and Josh Kutryk. It has not yet been decided who will fly on the Artemis II mission.
"With today's announcement, I think of the Apollo 8 image ... Earth as seen from the moon's orbit," Bains said to the four astronauts, who joined him on the video conference. "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."
The federal government has not said how much the flight will cost.
However, earlier this month, Canada committed $22.8 million to the first phase of developing Canadarm 3, a new robotic arm that will be used on the moon station.
"Our future in space is bright," Hansen said. "I think it is visionary and important for Canada."
With files from Reuters