Canada will participate in the international project to build a space station that will orbit around the moon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday.
The project, known as the Lunar Orbiting Platform-Gateway, is a US-led effort to begin the next level of space exploration. The orbiting space station might also become a part of human expedition to Mars, according to a report by The Globe and Mail.
"We're stepping up," Trudeau said during a press conference at Canadian Space Agency headquarters. "Canada is going to the moon."
As a part of its involvement, Canada will provide the new space station with a robotic arm named "Canadarm 3," a descendant of "Canadarm 2," which is installed at the International Space Station. The first generation of these robotic arms was installed on the US Space Shuttles.
The new space station will be unoccupied most of the time due to its remote location, and will rely heavily on artificial intelligence to sustain itself, the report says. However, Canada's involvement in the project opens up the possibility of Canadian astronauts participating in human expeditions to the station.
After his announcement, Trudeau passed the microphone to David Saint-Jacques, a Canadian astronaut currently in the midst of a six-month mission at the International Space Station. Speaking through satellite connection, Saint-Jacques lauded the Canadian decision and the opportunities it would bring to Canadian space researchers.
Going to the moon has become popular again in recent years, following decades of no interest in the matter. Both Russia and the EU have set their eyes on establishing a full-time moon base, with the European Space Agency reportedly aiming to being mining lunar resources by 2025, and Russia setting a slightly more realistic goal of 2036.