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Canada Begins Design Phase of Canadarm3 for Lunar Gateway

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 12, 2022
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An artist’s concept of Canadarm3’s large arm on the Lunar Gateway. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)

LONGUEUIL, Quebec, March 10, 2022 (CSA PR) — Canada is a global leader in the space robotics market thanks to strategic investments by the Government of Canada. Today the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced that Brampton-based company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) will receive $268.9 million to execute the second phase of Canadarm3. Through this design work, Canadian industry will push its capabilities and know-how in space robotics further than ever before.

The application of Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy, its first time being applied to civil space procurement, will help ensure that Canada’s contribution to the Lunar Gateway will be designed and built in Canada with the direct involvement of Canadian suppliers. MDA will support research and development and skills development, and create further business activities in key industrial capabilities within Canada’s space sector. They will also collaborate with small and medium-sized businesses to drive innovation in emerging technologies throughout the development of Canadarm3. The global space market is expected to triple over the next 20 years to $1.1 trillion. With key capabilities in this market, like robotics, Canadian companies will be poised to seize the opportunities of the commercial space sector.

MDA will use these funds to initiate the design phase of this flagship robotics system destined for the Lunar Gateway. Integrating sophisticated machine vision, cutting-edge software and advances in artificial intelligence, Canadarm3 will be critical to NASA’s Artemis program. This highly autonomous robotics system will maintain, repair and inspect the Lunar Gateway, as well as capture visiting vehicles, help astronauts during spacewalks, and support science both in lunar orbit and on the surface of the Moon.


“Through Canadarm3, Canada is leveraging our excellence in space robotics and committing to the next chapter of human space exploration. Strategic investments in Canada’s space sector ensure not only that we’re part of the growing global market, but also that we are creating real economic returns that fuel high-quality jobs for Canadians and ensure a more robust industrial supply chain.” 

– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Quick facts

  • With the application of the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy, the expected economic benefits from Canadarm3 are estimated to contribute over $70 million annually to Canada’s GDP and create and maintain some 630 high-quality jobs for Canadians over a 12-year period.
  • With this investment, MDA will proceed with the design of the smart robotics system, the procurement of long-lead items such as electronic components required during subsequent project phases, and technology development work needed to meet the overall project schedule.
  • MDA anticipates the creation of over 200 new jobs for highly qualified personnel for this phase.
  • Currently planned to launch in 2027, Canadarm3 will be composed of a next-generation large robotic arm, a small dexterous arm and a set of specialized tools.

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