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Minister Bains Highlights Robotic and Lunar Technology Contributions to Canada’s Space Program

The Honourable Navdeep Bains stands in front of the Canadarm2 Latching End Effector spare that will launch to the ISS in 2018. Credit: MDA.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, made a stop today at MDA’s Brampton robotic facility to highlight some of the governments contributions to the space program over the last few months.

Minister Bains was focusing on existing robotic contributions Canada provides to the International Space Station along with possible future robotic contributions for international missions such as the proposed Deep Space Gateway. Those contributions could include rovers for the moon, both robotic and for astronauts.

All told, the Minister was referencing $54.38M in contracts previously awarded to MDA, Canadensys Aerospace and Western University. The contracts were for;

  • MDA, a business unit of Maxar Technologies, a leader in space robotics, satellite subsystems, surveillance and intelligence systems and geospatial radar imagery with facilities in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia received $53.75 million:
    • $52.5 million for ongoing support for the Mobile Servicing System on the ISS, which includes the return from space and refurbishing of one of Canadarm2’s “hands.”
    • $800,000 to eventually enable autonomous control of future space hardware such as robotic arms, rovers, scientific instruments, and satellites.
    • $450,000 for a concept study for two rover types: a pressurized rover to transport astronauts on the Moon’s surface and a smaller rover that would first be sent to the Moon to collect lunar samples and test the technologies required for the pressurized rover.
  • Canadensys Aerospace, a space systems and services company based in Caledon, Ontario, received $450,000 for a concept study for two rover types: a pressurized rover to transport astronauts on the Moon’s surface and a smaller rover that would first be sent to the Moon to collect lunar samples and test the technologies required for the pressurized rover.
  • Western University of London, Ontario, received $175,000 to develop a science plan that could be performed by a rover while it is collecting lunar samples and testing technologies on the Moon.
Artists illustration of the Artemis Junior Rover built by Neptec with ODG  as a subcontractor
Artists illustration of the Artemis Junior Rover built by Neptec with ODG as a subcontractor. Credit: ODG/Neptec.

The Minister said “our government is committed to maintaining our country’s leading edge in space robotics. This funding is a direct investment in Canadian firms to research, develop talent and remain globally competitive. Canada is a space-faring nation, and we’re committed to supporting this growing industry and the middle-class jobs it creates.”

MDA also issued a press release to mark the event in which Marc Donato, MDA’s general manager responsible for this business said “Canadian robotics play a key role on the International Space Station and the advances in space robotics associated with this project not only enhances the MSS (Mobile Servicing System) capabilities, but also provides a long term benefit in ensuring Canadian technology retains its best-in-class status. The technologies being developed under this contract offer direct spin-offs related to commercial initiatives that MDA has undertaken, such as robotically servicing satellites in space.”

The Minister also said “today(‘s) announced investments of $54 million (is) part of the Government of Canada’s long-term commitment to the International Space Station (ISS) and to prepare for the next steps in deep-space exploration.”

Much of the technology mentioned today could one day serve as Canada’s contribution to future missions to the moon being contemplated by the International community and for is now officially part of U.S. space policy after President Trump’s announcement this week.

Funding for future missions to the moon still needs to allocated by the government here in Canada and in the U.S.

The Minister said the investments will support 175 jobs and included nine opportunities for students.

MDA

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactice Inc. Boucher has 18 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 25 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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