MONTREAL — A new Canadian space strategy that is already at least one year behind schedule is only months away, Science Minister Navdeep Bains said Friday.
“We haven’t determined the exact date, but it will be as soon as possible,” he said.
“In plain English — in the coming months.”
Bains made the comments after announcing an investment of more than $26.7 million in space technology that will benefit 33 Canadian companies.
The new money will create or secure 397 jobs and support 46 projects to develop what are described as game-changing technologies in medicine, artificial intelligence, autonomous navigation and virtual reality.
“Thanks to the new technologies, we will be able to improve wildfire monitoring, weather predictions and to better understand climate change,” Bains said.
Bains, who was joined by Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, made the funding announcement at MDA’s Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue facilities on the western tip of the island of Montreal.
MDA, which builds the Canadarm and satellites, will receive about $4 million to improve its technologies. That money is being awarded through a Canadian Space Agency program geared to small- and medium-sized firms.
Bains was also given a tour of three Radarsat satellites that are expected to be launched in November.
Another date that has yet to be determined is Hansen’s first space voyage.
Fellow astronaut David Saint-Jacques is due to blast off in December on a six-month mission to the International Space Station.
But exactly when Hansen will follow him is, in his own words, “the million-dollar question.”
It has already been announced he will fly by 2024.
Hansen strongly indicated his future flight will be on commercial space capsules currently being developed by two American companies — SpaceX’s “Dragon” capsule and Boeing’s “CST-100 Starliner.”
“We have to get those flying first and then I’ll have some resolution on when I’ll fly,” Hansen said.
“I haven’t been part of actually testing those systems yet. But I will in the future, so it’s pretty exciting stuff.”
The only way any astronaut can currently travel to and from the space station is on board a Russian Soyuz space capsule.
Peter Rakobowchuk, The Canadian Press