The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has awarded contracts to five companies, including a startup, to conduct studies for seven infrastructure ideas for the Moon.
The plan seems simple enough, this time when humans return to the Moon it’s with the idea that our presence will be permanent. There are two primary efforts underway, the Artemis program led by the U.S. which includes the Lunar Gateway, and an effort led by the Chinese.
Canada was the first nation to sign up for the Artemis program and has already secured two seats for Canadian astronauts including on the first human flight to the Moon since 1972, the Artemis II mission. A second Canadian astronaut will then fly on a future mission to the Lunar Gateway. Presumably, more Canadian astronaut missions will be negotiated with the Artemis partners and Canadians will head to the surface of the Moon.
The task all the partners face now is determining what they can contribute once they reach the lunar surface. Canada is already committed to sending micro-rovers along with several science investigations. But what else can Canadians organizations contribute? In particular with a focus on industry?
To that end the CSA issued a the Lunar Surface Exploration Initiative request for proposals in November, 2021 and this past week the CSA announced the recipients of $1.75 million in funding.
The CSA stated that the studies funded focus on five main areas.
- Agriculture and food production
- Autonomous and intelligent robots and rovers
- Avionics and communication
- Mining and In-situ resource utilization
- Power generation and distribution
The companies selected to explore their concept studies are:
Canadensys of Bolton, Ontario (2 contracts valued at $249,998 and $249,995)
- Will develop a concept for a lunar greenhouse designed to support crewed lunar habitation.
- Will assess possibilities for modular surface rovers ranging from micro-rovers to large, pressurized rovers capable of transporting humans.
MDA of Brampton, Ontario (2 contracts valued at $250,000 and $250,000)
- Will outline technologies and a road map for autonomous and intelligent robots and rovers for use on the lunar surface.
- Will provide a concept for a Canadian-led nuclear power system for use on the lunar surface.
Canadian Space Mining Corporation of Toronto, Ontario ($248,000)
- Will evaluate prospecting in lunar orbit and on the surface. The study will consider mining and construction capabilities as well as in-situ processing of resources.
Honeywell of Ottawa, Ontario ($250,000)
- Will develop a plan to build a lunar communications network for systems in lunar orbit and on the surface.
MPB Communications Inc. of Pointe-Claire, Quebec ($249,884)
- Will focus on optical communications between Earth and the Moon, including ground stations on the lunar surface.