Canada makes next contribution towards the Lunar Gateway Canadarm3 with $268.9M contract to MDA

Lunar Gateway and Canadarm3. Credit: Canadian Space Agency.

It’s a contract everyone knew was coming, but the $268.9 million Canadarm3 Phase B awarded to MDA by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is a major milestone for the current Canadian space program. To put it into context, in the CSA’s fiscal year 2020/21 they spent $272 million on programs excluding internal services.

Today’s award is the most significant contract to date in the Canadian Moon program announced three years ago by Prime Minister Trudeau. In his speech on Feb. 28, 2019, the Prime Minister committed spending $2.05 billion over 24 years. The program will see small Canadian rovers on the Moon, the Canadarm3 for the NASA led international Lunar Gateway, and at least two astronauts going to the Moon. One of those astronauts will be on the Artemis II mission – the first crewed mission around the Moon. The other will be stationed at the Lunar Gateway, but won’t go to the surface. Though it’s a strong possibility a Canadian astronaut will go to the surface sometime after the Artemis III mission.

Credit: CSA

The contract will be used by MDA to complete the preliminary design of the Canadarm3 robotics system. The CSA stated that the Canadarm3 robotics system design will include “sophisticated machine vision, cutting-edge software and advances in artificial intelligence.”

The government also stated that “the expected economic benefits from Canadarm3 are estimated to contribute over $70 million annually to Canada’s GDP and create and maintain some 630 high-quality jobs for Canadians over a 12-year period.” For this phase of the contract MDA is expecting to create “200 new jobs.”

CSA President Lisa Campbell said “Driven by Canada’s strategic investments in space robotics, Canadarm3 will fuel incredible opportunities for our space sector. Within a growing global space economy, MDA will work with Canadian companies from coast to coast, strengthening a robust industrial supply chain primed for leadership and success as humanity returns to the Moon and ventures farther than ever before.”

Mike Greenley, Chief Executive Officer of MDA added that “This is another important milestone for MDA that demonstrates our ability to execute in the rapidly accelerating global space economy and further reinforces our role as a worldwide leader in robotics and space operations. MDA now intends to leverage its world-class engineering capabilities, mission expertise, and cutting-edge Canadarm3 technology with an eye towards commercializing space robotics products in the years ahead.”

MDA said the contract will be reflected in its fiscal 2022 first quarter backlog and that the work should be completed within the next 17 months. MDA will release its fourth quarter and full year 2021 financial results on Thursday, March 17, 2022. MDA’s stock was up 7.95% on the day to $9.64.

The Canadarm3 is now planned for launch in 2027.

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About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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