NASA has secured its first international partner for an ambitious lunar-orbit space station. Canada has made a 24-year commitment to the agency’s Gateway Lunar Outpost to supply both funding and a next-generation Canadarm.
“NASA is thrilled that Canada is the first international partner for the Gateway lunar outpost,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Our new collaboration on Gateway will enable our broader international partnership to get to the Moon and eventually to Mars.”
The Gateway Lunar Outpost is a lunar-orbit space station that is intended to allow human beings to return to the Moon after a nearly 50-year absence. NASA hopes that the Gateway will become a staging point for crewed missions to Mars and beyond. It will also allow for studies in planetary science, Earth observation, astrophysics and human beings ability to live in deep space.
Canada’s commitment to the Gateway was announced on February 28, 2019. In addition to offering funding, support and crew for the station, Canada will equip it with a next-generation Canadarm, a robotic arm built by the country for the International Space Station (ISS).
The United States had thus far struggled to attract partners for the ambitious lunar-orbit station. Russia, who had been a major partner in the construction of the ISS has shown little interest in the Gateway. China, the world’s other space power is busy with construction of its own low Earth orbit station and is unlikely to support NASA’s efforts. As a result, the agency has been forced to explore partnerships with countries many may not see as having a significant presence in space, like Canada.
Despite Canda’s substantial commitment to the Gateway, additional partnerships with other nations will still be required in order to make the lunar-orbit station a reality.