Voyages to the Moon and Mars are gradually becoming a reality, and private companies – including Quebec companies – are sharpening their weapons to conquer the interstellar El Dorado.
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Gone are the days when the Soviet and American governments fought over billions over who could push the furthest into space. Private companies are now at the forefront of this race, which represents a market of more than US$370 billion (C$508 billion), according to the firm Euroconsult.
Billionaires like Elon Musk are already sending astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) with his company SpaceX, but Quebecers are not left out.
Quebecers who see far
“In Quebec, we have 950 employees who work in the space. They make satellites, parts for other companies’ satellites and computers for space,” says Giovanni D’Aliesio, director of development at MDA Satellite Systems.
MDA, which has an office in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, built the International Space Station’s Canadarm robotic arm, which is used, among other things, to maintain the station and to seize cargo ships and dock them at the station. .
The company is also responsible for building Canadarm3, the robotic arm for the new space station in orbit around the Moon, which will be launched around 2026.
Photo from NASA website
An autonomous drill used to extract water from beneath the lunar surface.
An opening market
“Before, it was always the governments that had the money. We had to wait for the government’s projects. But the cost of sending technology into space has come down a lot recently, thanks to companies like SpaceX. Today it is possible to be profitable by utilizing the space”, adds Giovanni D’Aliesio.
Other Quebec companies have launched into space. Felix & Paul Studios from Montreal is developing, among other things, a camera to take pictures outside the International Space Station.
NGC Aerospace, Sherbrooke, is developing a computer-controlled system that will enable spacecraft to land safely on the Moon.
“Since the race to the moon in the 1960s, governments have dominated space exploration programs. What we see more and more is the emergence of public-private partnerships and the presence of companies that help reduce costs and improve program efficiency,” says Miguel Ouellette, economist for Euroconsult, a firm specializing in supporting companies and public entities in the space sector, which has an office in Montreal.
The American company Bobcat is also working on building machines that will make it possible to mine materials on the Moon, according to our sources.
Remember that the main mission of NASA’s Artemis is to set foot on Mars in 2030, thus opening up opportunities for companies that want to contribute to the missions.
America’s Caterpillar, known for its tractors and heavy machinery for agriculture and construction, is for its part working on remote-controlled mining equipment that could end up on the Moon, CNBC recently reported.