Canada Commits $2 Billion to Exploring Deep Space and Life on the Moon

In the mid-twentieth century, humankind wondered if it was possible to go to the moon.

Nearly 50 years after Apollo 11 gave us the answer, we’re wondering what’s possible once we’re up there.

Yesterday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s participation in answering that question as well. Speaking at the Canadian Space Agency headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, Trudeau announced $2.05 billion in funding over the next 24 years toward the Canadian space program.

The most transparent project of Trudeau’s commitment is the U.S.-led Lunar Gateway, which Canada will support with $150 million over five years. The Lunar Gateway is essentially a space station where astronauts orbiting the moon can live, park their space shuttles, and conduct research.

“The Gateway will enable months-long crew expeditions with multiple trips down to the lunar surface, enabling exploration of new locations across the Moon,” Nasa explains. Construction on the Lunar Gateway will begin in 2022. When it is complete, it will hover 1,000 times farther from Earth than the International Space Station.

Canada will contribute to the program its expertise in building robotic arms. For the Lunar Gateway, that means the Canadarm3 (the first Canadarm, now retired, launched into orbit in 1981 on the Space Shuttle Columbia; Canadarm2 is aboard the International Space Station).

Trudeau expects his investment to contribute $100 million annually to Canada’s economy. “Canada’s historic investment will create good jobs for Canadians, keep our astronaut program running and our aerospace industry strong and growing, while opening up a new realm of possibilities for Canadian research and innovation,” he said in announcing yesterday’s news.

Canada’s space industry employs around 10,000 high-skilled workers, contributing $2.3 billion to the country’s GDP in 2017.