Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains is set to make what is being billed as a “major” announcement on the future of Canadian space exploration on Wednesday morning.
One government official said the “significant” announcement will be about how Canada will participate in NASA‘s new Artemis lunar mission, which aims to put the first women on the moon and get humans back to the lunar surface in 2024, though there remain questions on whether that date will hold.
The official would not confirm whether Canadian astronauts will be heading to the moon but noted NASA has said there will be international astronauts joining the Artemis team later.
NASA put men on the moon in the 1960s and1970s but the Artemis mission marks the first attempt to return to the lunar surface, with the goal of setting up a long-term presence there by 2030.
The first 18 American astronauts attached to the mission were announced by NASA on Friday: nine of them female and nine of them male.
The Canadian Space Agency has four active Canadian astronauts working at NASA’s Johnson Space Center: Jeremy Hansen, Joshua Kutryk, Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons and David Saint-Jacques.
Canadian scientists will also be building the Canadarm3 robotic arm for the Artemis missions.
Lisa Campbell, the new president of the Canadian Space Agency, said in an interview with Global News in September that she wants to see Canada at the centre of “a new era” for space exploration.
Canada signed on to the U.S.-led Artemis Accords in October, which aim to create international guidelines for sending astronauts back to the moon, exploring space peacefully and limiting lunar litter.