Canada has been making massive strides in the space industry of late. With over 60 years of contributions to the International Space Program the country has become a robotic pillar of the space tech community. It will now take a stride forward in joining other countries exploring the moon with the design of a key moon landing sensor. Canada’s largest space company, MDA Ltd. announced that it has been awarded a contract with an “undisclosed US-based space company” to design a key landing sensor for a 2023 mission to the Moon. MDA is involved in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.
Today’s announcement follows a similar contract announced in August to provide lunar landing sensors to Intuitive Machines. These contracts are indicative of the growing commercial opportunity associated with a renewed interest in Moon missions from governments and commercial organizations around the globe.
MDA CEO MIKE GREENLEY CEO SAYS COMPANY HAS DEVELOPED A FULL SUITE OF SENSORS
According to Euroconsult, approximately 130 missions are expected by the end of the decade, compared to 52 missions conducted over the prior decade. All of the missions require sensors. MDA has developed a full suite of affordable, standardized sensor products designed for use in lunar landings, orbital debris removal, rendezvous and docking as well as Earth observation, ideally positioning the company for further expansion.
MDA’S UK DIVISION INVOLVED IN UK SPACE AGENCY PARTNERSHIP
The landing sensors for the mission announced today will be delivered from MDA’s Harwell UK office. This technology is a result of a strong partnership with the UK Space Agency, which has supported the development of MDA’s two commercial lunar landing sensors – LEIA (Lidar) and FLARE (Laser Range Finder).
Speaking to the importance of international collaboration, David Kenyon, Managing Director of MDA UK said, “no one gets to the Moon on their own and strong partnerships are critical to mission success. We are grateful for the collaboration and support from the UK Space Agency on our suite of commercial landing sensors which will ensure that MDA and the UK are at the forefront of a new commercial space race.”
While FLARE will be used for flatter, less risky landing areas, the contract announced today will use the LEIA technology, which enables landings in more treacherous locations. Through its use of 3D models to navigate around obstacles, LEIA provides an opportunity to access a greater number of sites and essential resources.
CANADA IS JOINING THE MOON MISSIONS
Canada will join the United States on its aggressive endeavours to put humans back on the moon and eventually boots on Mars. Canada was the first country to commit to the NASA led Artemis program and will contribute a robotic arm to help astronauts succeed. NASA recently announced two Canadian astronauts will be part of those moon missions, a benefit for countries who invest internationally in advancing human space exploration.
At the time of announcement by Canada in Artemis MDA boss Mike Greenley said “MDA is proud to continue our legacy of working with the Canadian Space Agency and its international partners to design, build and deploy robotic systems in support of space exploration missions. This project will leverage MDA’s world-leading space robotics capabilities, gained through the Canadarm programs, and will be an important component of Canada’s contribution to the NASA-led Gateway. We are proud to deliver new jobs in Canada and engage our Canadian supply base in preparation for Canadarm3.”
The Canadian Space Agency is preparing Canada’s space community and collaborating sectors – including Canadian companies, universities, research institutions, and other organizations – for potential roles in the long-term exploration of the Moon, a crucial stepping stone in humanity’s quest to travel onwards to Mars. The Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP) was created to provide a wide range of opportunities for Canadian science and technology activities in lunar orbit, on the Moon’s surface, and beyond.