25. Canadian Space Agency: Lunar Gateway & Canadarm3

In this episode we continue our “Around the World in Space” series with the Canadian Space Agency.

Ken Podwalski, Program Manager for the Lunar Gateway at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) joins us to discuss the Canadian Space Agency’s efforts for the upcoming Lunar Gateway and Canadarm3. The Canadian Space Agency was established in 1990 but Canada has been involved with space for decades. In fact, Canada was the third country to develop and build its own satellite, Alouette, that launched in 1962. CSA is well known for its development of Canadarm, the robotic arm used on the space shuttle, the International Space Station, and soon the Lunar Gateway.

About the Lunar Gateway

NASA is spearheading the initiative to establish the Gateway, a space station in lunar orbit. About one-fifth of the size of the ISS, this new outpost will be developed, serviced, and utilized in collaboration with international and commercial partners. The Gateway will be:

  • a science laboratory;
  • a testbed for new technologies;
  • a rendezvous location for exploration of the surface of the Moon;
  • a mission control centre for operations on the Moon; and
  • one day, a stepping stone for voyages to Mars.

When fully assembled, the Gateway will include modules for scientific research and living quarters for crews of four astronauts. They will be able to live and work on the Gateway for up to three months at a time, occasionally travelling to the lunar surface to conduct science and test new technologies. Eventually, these missions could last longer in order to prepare for the deeper-space missions of the future.

Unlike the ISS, the Gateway will not be crewed continuously, though it will be inhabited at least once a year. As an artificial intelligence-based robotic system, Canadarm3 will be able to tend to the Gateway when no humans are on board, including operating science experiments aboard the lunar outpost.

About Canadarm3

Canadarm3 will be Canada’s contribution to the US-led Gateway, a lunar outpost that will enable sustainable human exploration of the Moon. This highly autonomous robotic system will use cutting-edge software to perform tasks around the Moon without human intervention.

The smart robotic system will include several distinct parts, including a large, 8.5-metre-long arm, a smaller, more dexterous arm, and a set of detachable tools. Canadarm3 is designed to work autonomously. However, the system could also be operated by robotics flight controllers in Canada, or by Gateway crew during spacewalks. Canadarm3 will create more flight opportunities for Canadian astronauts and will give Canadian scientists a possibility to conduct research and experiments that cannot be done on Earth.

For more information, visit https://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/

Special thanks to Kate Pierson of The B-52’s for sharing her space story in this episode! Check out our interview with Kate at https://youtu.be/Snq1Ctae7CE or visit OnlineCoffeeBreak.com

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