Bob McDonald's blog: Canada has long played a significant role in advancement in space exploration
Earlier this week, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency announced that Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen will be part of the crew of the historic Artemis II mission to orbit the moon.
This flight can be seen as part of a continuous history for Canada in space, reaching back more than six decades.
Canada has been part of space exploration since the beginning, as the fourth country to have a presence in space. The Soviet Union was first with its satellite Sputnik in 1957. The U.S. followed the next year with Explorer 1. The British flew Ariel 1 in 1962, and Canada was next with Alouette 1 that same year. However, both of the latter satellites rode American rockets.
Interestingly, the other first satellites have fallen out of their orbits and burned up in the atmosphere, while Alouette is still up there. After ten years of operation it was switched off, but it rides in such a high orbit that it remains in space. When we put something up, it stays up!
When Canada cancelled the Avro Arrow supersonic jet program, many scientists and engineers who had been working on the project went to NASA to participate in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs that eventually brought American astronauts to the moon.
Our famous Canadarm remote manipulator system was carried aboard space shuttles to launch satellites — including the Hubble Space Telescope — that attach modules to the space station and act as a cherry picker support for astronauts who rode the end of the arm during space walks.
Canadarm2 is a permanent feature of the space station, along with its "hand" Dextre, which is used to attach space station modules and assist in repair work.
Hansen is the tenth Canadian astronaut to be selected for space flight since our first Canadian in space, Marc Garneau, flew on space shuttle Columbia in 1984. Chris Hadfield is the only Canadian to become the commander of the International Space Station.
Canada has also contributed to space science with satellites such as the Radarsat constellation, which uses radar to map the surface of the Earth in fine detail regardless of cloud cover or time of day.
We even have a scientific instrument on the surface of Mars, aboard the Curiosity rover, which examines rocks to determine their chemical makeup as part of the search for life on the red planet.
This long history of Canada's role in space exploration will continue with our astronauts venturing to the moon, and a new Canadarm3 that will be part of the planned Gateway space station to be built in orbit around the moon. We are also developing a lunar rover that will prospect for ice in the lunar soil.
Canada has been something of a silent partner in the space program. We don't make a lot of noise because we don't build the big rockets. But we have been along for the ride since the beginning with our scientists, technology and astronauts. And if humans move on to Mars, it's a good bet that Canada will be there too.
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca