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Canada  

Canada shoots for moon

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada's space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

The Canadian Space Agency issued the tender this week for projects that will put Canada in position to contribute to future space missions involving human and robotic exploration of the moon.

The idea is to demonstrate technologies at agency headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Que., next year with possible follow-up testing in the Canary Islands in 2020.

Canada is already quietly working with space agencies in Europe, Japan and the United States on the next phases of exploring the final frontier.

As a step toward a mission to Mars, U.S. space agency NASA is spearheading the Lunar Gateway, an outpost that would orbit the moon. Through the Gateway, four astronauts would have access to the moon's surface for weeks at a time to carry out experiments and exploration.

There is already talk of Canada contributing an advanced moon rover for future missions.

"The next focus for exploration is to move deeper into space, to go to the moon and to Mars," said Mike Greenley, group president of MDA, a leading space technology firm.

"And so the next series of projects, over the next five to seven years, will be to get back to the moon, and then over the next 12 to 15 years, to move beyond that to Mars."

Canada has a long history of space involvement dating from the 1962 launch of satellite Alouette I to study the ionosphere. Since 1984, eight Canadian astronauts have taken part in 16 missions, and the Canadarm established the country as a leader in space robotics.

There will also be opportunities for Canada to take part in activities on the lunar surface — for instance by designing and building rovers and assisting with space mining, which will be key to extracting needed resources for a budding moon colony, he said.

A coalition of space-sector players including MDA recently launched a campaign — #DontLetGoCanada — to try to raise awareness of the country's accomplishments in space and the benefits that flow from federal spending and support.



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