Canada will for the first time send an astronaut to orbit the moon on the U.S. mission planned for 2023, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said Wednesday, announcing a formal contract with Washington.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence last week unveiled a group of 18 people who could go to the moon under NASA’s Artemis program, to which Canada is now a part.
Artemis is designed to send several missions to the Moon. The Canadian astronaut – who has not yet been named – will take part in the second flight, which is expected to fly around the moon on a 10-day mission in 2023.
“Every eye looks to the sky because one of our astronauts is the first Canadian to orbit the moon,” Bains told a news conference.
Read also: NASA is setting out science goals for future astronauts on the Moon
Canada and the United States have a long history of cooperation in space. Bains also said that a Canadian astronaut would fly one day to the Lunar Gate, a center NASA plans to build that will orbit the moon sometime within the next decade.
Canada built the Canadarm robotic arms that were first installed on some U.S. space shuttle and then the International Space Station. Canada has signed a contract to build a new Canadarm for Lunar Gate.
The United States aims to put an astronaut on the moon in 2024. Some in the U.S. space agency and the American space industry consider this to be impractical and the target could be pushed on back after President Joe Biden took office on January 20th.
The last astronauts to walk on the moon were the crew of Apollo 17 in December 1972.
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