by Nick Owens
It hasn’t been a secret that NASA has been planning a trip to Mars for the near future. But there are still many steps to go through before we reach the point where we’re ready for interplanetary travel. One of the next steps would be to travel to our closest neighbour, the moon.
NASA, having recently received the propulsion system that will continue missions to the moon in the early to mid 2020s, has expressed interest in reaching out to other countries in the hopes of assisting in these missions.
Primarily, the head of the US space agency said that they wanted to see Canadian footprints on the moon. Canada has always been a big part of the United States space program. After all, the Canadarm, a piece of the International Space Station is on our five dollar bill. Our current Governor General, Julie Payette, is a former astronaut. Furthermore, the first Russian launched space mission since last month’s rocket failure is planned to have a Canadian on board.
The upcoming missions to the moon are planned, not only to be a means of providing a more viable means of deep space travel. For instance, one of the plans is to setup the new, ‘Lunar Gateway,’ a sustainable space station that will be set into orbit around the moon. Jim Bridenstine, a NASA administrator, talked about how Canada would be a great source of expertise in robotics and in artificial intelligence. Furthermore, he wants to see the Lunar Gateway equipped with a brand new Canadarm.
What all of this would ideally amount to would be a method of travel between the earth and the moon that is easier and less expensive than ever before.
From there, interplanetary travel, which is complicated enough as is, would become a lot simpler, finally making a mission to the red planet a possibility.
However, Canadian contribution would not, stop with the Lunar Gateway. With continued assistance from the Canadian Space Association, we could eventually see Canadians walking on Mars.
The federal government has been somewhat slow to respond. The prospect of seeing Canadians on the moon is pretty intriguing, but would require a lot of resources and money with very little profit to be had, aside from the betterment of human knowledge.
Canada has been continuously contributing to space projects for decades and it seems hard to believe that this would come to an end now. But, if the government waits too long to respond, then Canada might miss the opportunity to see some of its citizens walking on the moon or going even further.