The Government of Canada has begun a consultation on a framework for future space exploration activities and how Canada will contribute.
The effort is being coordinated by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) working with Global Affairs Canada and Natural Resources Canada.
The consultation introduction states that “as a first step to establishing a framework for new and emerging space exploration activities, Canada signed the Artemis Accords on October 13, 2020. The Artemis Accords are a common set of principles designed to guide the exploration and use of outer space in a safe and sustainable manner and in accordance with international treaty obligations. Consultations with Canadians on the principles in the Accords, including those related to Space Resource Utilization (SRU) will help to expand, refine, and solidify this framework to ensure the safe and sustainable exploration of space for decades to come.”
The consultation is open until January 31, 2021 and anyone can submit their feedback by email ([email protected]). The CSA will also be coordinating a series of webinars with details still to come.
The consultation website does put emphasis on the fact that the framework will “ensure safe and sustainable space exploration for decades to come” with the words “safe and sustainable” in bold. In other words, unlike the 1970’s when U.S. Apollo program to the Moon ended with no follow-on, and which has been described as a “flags and footprints” effort, the current Artemis program must be sustainable.
For Canada, this should mean that while a part of the Artemis program and a signatory of the Artemis accords, that it shouldn’t follow blindly an American program that can all too fast switch gears when a new administration is elected. That appears to be a part of the rationale that went into the creation of the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program last year that received $150 million in funding over five years. Canada will chart its own sustainable path, while at the same time work with its partners on larger programs like Artemis with sustainability being a primary goal.
And as the U.S. elections looms large next week, there seems to be a consensus that the Artemis program will forge on whoever wins. The pace of the program and its scope might change a bit, but the program will continue.