NASA’s Artemis 1 landed today, what this means for Canada

After 25 days in space, Artemis I, NASA’s unmanned spacecraft, returned to earth landing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

The successful mission will act as a foundation for human deep-space exploration.

The spacecraft’s return happened Sunday at approximately 12:40 p.m. EST — the same day as the final Apollo moon landing in 1972.

Although spearheaded by NASA and a global community, Canada is playing a key role in the Artemis program. The Canadian Space Agency continues to develop new technology for space travel aiding the international community’s goal of establishing a human presence on the moon.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a Canadian on the moon in one of the first missions,” Keith Cowing, editor of, a media company focusing on space news, said. “For NASA, it’s important because we’re going back. But this time, we’re going back with a lot of friends in a global way.”

Speaking to CTV News Channel Sunday, Cowing said he remembers the space race and geopolitics that played into the first moon landing, but now Canada is no longer on the sidelines.

“There’s something called the Artemis Accords, which is an agreement with a number of nations … including Canada, Europe, Japan – a whole bunch of countries all working together,” Cowing said. “And as part of the Artemis program, Canada is going to have one of its famous robotic arms on the Gateway Station.”

An important aspect of the first Artemis mission is the re-entry of the Orion spacecraft into Earth’s orbit.

“It’s going to hit the Earth’s atmosphere, but this time, it’s going to skip like a rock on a lake and help to slow down and then come into land just off the coast of California,” Cowling said. “So that sounds simple, but it’s probably the most stone nailbiting aspect of this entire mission other than the launch.”

When the spacecraft enters the atmosphere at such a high speed, estimated about 25,000 to 40,000 kilometres per hour, the temperature will increase to about 2,700 degrees Celsius, Cowing said.

“There’s no real margin for error,” he said. “It’s going to come in, skip and come down, so that heat shield has to work perfectly.”

Artemis faced a rocky start to the mission when it was delayed three months due to technical problems and a tropical storm. It launched Nov. 16 and is the first step to NASA’s program to put humans back on the moon and eventually establish a lunar base.

“Hopefully, we’re sustainable in that, we’re gonna go back … and build up a capability on the moon instead of just going to visit and staying home for half a century,” Cowing said.

The program is split into three parts, the first being completed Sunday with a successful return of the spacecraft. The second launch is set to come “no later” than May 2024 and will have a crewed test flight, reads the Canadian Space Agency website.

The final mission is set to launch in 2025 and will fly astronauts to the moon and “may land humans on the lunar surface.”

The historic missions will also land the first woman and first person of colour on the surface of the moon. 


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