Canadian astronauts were filled with both excitement and pride following the historic announcement today that Canada will be sending one of its own around the moon in just a few years' time.
Following the news, we spoke to Canadian astronauts Chris Hadfield and David Saint-Jacques about the importance of this mission and what it means for Canada.
Passion emanated from their voices as they discussed spaceflight and the significance of this project.
"[This is the] next phase in the international human spaceflight story,” says Saint-Jacques. “As we are dreaming of venturing further into space, and one day to Mars, going back to the moon just makes sense as a stepping stone for those future, even more ambitious missions.”
“We still have a lot to learn about the moon herself,” he goes on to say.
The Lunar Gateway project will not just be important when it comes to the future of spaceflight, but it will also be a significant moment for Canada.
“Canadians looking at Canadians doing something that pushes the very edge of what’s barely possible” to Hadfield is a “hugely important and inspirational part of it.”
Saint-Jacques' enthusiasm at Canada’s role in this was also apparent, and he says “it fills me with a lot of excitement and pride.”
While these missions may be exciting, they are no easy task.
Hadfield stresses the enormous work that is required for space flight, saying “it is incredibly dangerous.”
“To have a Canadian on the very first ship that is going to have people on board, that’s going to the moon ... not only is it exciting — and a huge technological challenge — but it’s also going to ask a Canadian to shoulder a huge burden of personal risk and professional risk,” Hadfield says.
But if we are going to eventually travel to Mars, this would be an important step in that direction.
As Saint-Jacques puts it, “going to the moon is like driving an hour to the mountain nearby to test our camping gear even further, on our way one day to go to Everest, which is Mars for us.”
No word yet on who will be selected for the mission though, so we’ll just have to wait — along with the astronauts themselves — with great anticipation.