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Canada to Make History with First Home-Grown Astronaut to Join NASA’s Artemis II Lunar Mission

Today NASA will announce which astronauts will be carried to the moon in the upcoming Artemis II mission, and one of them will be a Canadian. Scheduled for a 2024 launch, the upcoming Artemis II mission will include a Canadian astronaut as one of the four crew members, marking the first time a Canadian will travel beyond Earth’s orbit and orbit the dark side of the lunar surface.

The Artemis program timeline was announced in 2021, starting with an uncrewed test flight of the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft. This will be followed by a crewed test flight around the Moon in 2023, and the first crewed lunar landing since the Apollo program in 2024. The program also involves the creation of a lunar Gateway, a small space station in lunar orbit serving as a staging point for missions to the lunar surface.

During Artemis II, the spacecraft will orbit around the moon and the crew will perform a flyby around the far side of the moon, which is often referred to as the “dark side” due to it always facing away from Earth. This will be the first crewed mission to the moon since the Apollo program’s final mission in 1972. After Artemis II, NASA plans to send a crewed mission to land on the lunar surface, with the ultimate goal of establishing a sustainable presence on the moon and eventually sending humans to Mars.

Artemis 2 mission will send four astronauts in the first crewed Orion MPCV Spacecraft for a maximum of 21 days using the Block 1 variant of the Space Launch System. The Orion spacecraft will perform various checkouts of the spacecraft’s life support systems as well as an in-space rendezvous and proximity operations demonstration before completing the TLI maneuver which will send it to a lunar free return trajectory, before returning to Earth.

Canada will be sending one of its astronauts to the moon. 

Canada will provide one of the four astronauts heading to the moon mission Artemis

Canada’s moon campaign to join Artemis involved a $2.05-billion commitment over 24 years to support NASA’s Lunar Gateway project, which will be a small spaceship orbiting the moon that will allow for exploration and possible settlement of the lunar surface.

The other three crew members will be American, making Canada and the U.S. the only two countries to have sent crewed missions that far into space. The ultimate goal of the Artemis program is to put a man and a woman on the moon by 2025, as a step toward eventually sending astronauts to Mars. As a partner, Canada is contributing key robotics technology and expertise to the program, including the development of a next-generation robotic arm called Canadarm3.

Canadarm3 will be used to provide support for the Gateway lunar outpost, a small spaceship that will orbit the Moon and act as a hub for human exploration and scientific research. The robotic arm will be able to move equipment and supplies between the Gateway and other lunar vehicles, and it will also be used to assemble and maintain the Gateway itself.

In addition to Canadarm3, Canada is also providing other technologies and instruments to support the Artemis program, including a laser retroreflector array that will help scientists to precisely measure the distance between the Moon and Earth.

Canada has a deep bench of experienced astronauts to help with a successful mission

Canada’s current astronaut team consists of four individuals, led by David Saint-Jacques, a medical doctor and astrophysicist hailing from Montreal. Saint-Jacques is the only member of the group who has previously traveled to space, having embarked on a journey to the International Space Station in 2018.

David Saint-Jacques spent 204 days on the International Space Station (ISS) as part of Expedition 58/59 from December 3, 2018, to June 24, 2019. During his time in space, he conducted a variety of experiments and tasks to further scientific research and the understanding of life in space.

He conducted numerous scientific experiments in fields such as health, physics, and biology. For example, he worked on a study on how the human body responds to spaceflight, grew protein crystals to help find cures for diseases, and monitored the health of the crew members.

Saint-Jacques also participated in two spacewalks outside the ISS, which involved repairing equipment and installing new instruments. He also operated the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture and release cargo ships that brought supplies to the ISS.

Other Canadians on the astronaut team include Jeremy Hansen who, given is leadership and experience across the CSA and NASA space program is currently a very likely candidate to make the mission to the moon.

Hansen was selected by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in May 2009 to be part of the CSA’s astronaut corps. Born on January 27, 1976, in London, Ontario, Canada, he is a former Royal Canadian Air Force pilot and served as a CF-18 fighter pilot prior to his selection as an astronaut.

Hansen has been involved in numerous training exercises and simulations, including training on the use of the Canadarm2 robotic arm, which is used on the International Space Station. While he has not yet been on a space mission, he has been involved in several space-related initiatives, including promoting space education and awareness in Canada.

Joshua Kutryk, a 41-year old CSA astronaut was born on September 21, 1982, in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada. Kutryk holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada and a Master of Defence Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. Before joining the CSA, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as a fighter pilot and a test pilot. He has flown over 2,500 hours on different aircraft, including the CF-18 Hornet and the CT-155 Hawk.

Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons, a 34-year-old mechanical engineer and lecturer at Cambridge University from Calgary. She is a Canadian astronaut and lecturer in engineering at the University of Cambridge. She was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1988 and completed her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at McGill University in Montreal. She then earned a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Cambridge before being selected as one of two new Canadian astronauts in 2017.

As part of her astronaut training, Sidey-Gibbons has undergone rigorous physical, technical, and psychological preparation for long-duration spaceflight. Gibbons is currently waiting for her turn to be assigned to a space mission, which could involve serving on the International Space Station, participating in this lunar mission under the Artemis program, or even traveling to Mars in the future.

In addition to her role as an astronaut, Sidey-Gibbons is also an advocate for science education and outreach, particularly for encouraging girls and women to pursue careers in STEM fields.

Canada has a long history of innovation in the space program

Canada has a long history of involvement in space exploration, starting in 1962 with the launch of the Alouette 1 satellite, the first satellite designed and built entirely in Canada. Since then, Canada has developed a strong reputation for expertise in space robotics and has contributed to numerous international space missions.

In 1983, Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau became the first Canadian in space, flying aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. Since then, several other Canadians have gone on to fly in space, including Roberta Bondar, Chris Hadfield, and David Saint-Jacques.

Canada is also home to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), which was established in 1989 to coordinate and promote Canadian space activities. The CSA has worked on a variety of projects, including the Canadarm robotic arm, which has been used on numerous space missions, and the development of the RADARSAT satellites, which are used for Earth observation.

In recent years, Canada has continued to play an important role in space exploration, with the country contributing to the International Space Station and partnering with NASA on this very important Artemis program.


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