A Canadian astronaut will be on the first crew to travel to the moon as part of an effort to build a space station in lunar orbit. The Canadian government signed a deal with the U.S. last week to secure a spot on a flyby of the moon in 2023. It will be the first time humans have gone to the moon since 1972. It will be the first mission of the Lunar Gateway project and Canada has also secured a seat on a later mission to visit the space station itself. “Launching in 2023, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut will be part of Artemis 2, the first mission to carry humans to lunar orbit in over 50 years,” said Industry Minister Navdeep Bains. “This will make Canada only the second country after the U.S. to have an astronaut in deep space.”
The Canadian Space Agency has four active astronauts: Jeremy Hansen, David Saint-Jacques, Joshua Kutryk and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons. Only Saint-Jacques, who joined the astronaut corps in 2009 with Hansen, has been to the International Space Station as a flight engineer. Kutryk and Sidey-Gibbons were selected in 2017. The deal with the U.S. also commits Canada to developing and building a new robotic arm for the Lunar Gateway. The government pledged $22.8 million to MDA Canada to help build the Canadarm3.