Estimated reading time 6 minutes, 11 seconds.
On April 25, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the recently announced Artemis II crew to Canada, joining them in an industry panel discussion at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.
Moderated by Lisa Campbell, the president of the Canadian Space Agency, the panel also included NASA administrator, Senator Bill Nelson, and featured opening remarks by Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne.
Held in the heart of the museum amongst dozens of aircraft and exhibits that tell the story of Canada’s rich history in aviation and space, the 30-minute event explored and celebrated Canada’s value as an international partner in flight and science. In attendance at the event were hundreds of Canadian space sector professionals, including members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as family members of the crew.
Through the Artemis II mission, Canada is poised to become the second nation to fly a citizen beyond low Earth orbit and will do so in close partnership with the United States. Nelson recognized the uniqueness of the opportunity in his opening remark, sharing that “it is significant that for the first time back to the moon in over half a century, Canada is our international partner.”
That partnership was the theme of the evening, with Trudeau noting that Col (RCAF) Jeremy Hansen’s being named to the upcoming lunar mission was indeed “a really big moment, but it’s only one moment in a relationship that has lasted decades, and it will continue to last for decades more as we go back to the Moon and beyond.”
In speaking directly to the quietly excited audience, Hansen’s remarks combined what the mission means to him personally, but also how he recognizes the internationally valued ingenuity, efforts, and inputs from Canada as a whole.
“I’m excited,” shared Hansen. “I’ve dreamt of this my whole life. I am going to see the Earth from the perspective of the Moon, and I just feel like I’m the luckiest human alive to get to go do this. But the bigger sentiment that I have, especially when I look at the faces in this audience: It’s about the visionary, bold, brave Canadians, step by step bringing us to this moment.
“What I feel is like, ‘YES! This is your chance to shine, you are on the world stage, you are being highlighted for the genius that Canadians bring to the international stage. Our American partners, great leaders, have recognized that, and they have lifted us up and welcomed us; truly put us in a position where we can spread our wings and soar all the way to the Moon, and on to Mars.”
Mission specialist Christina Hammock Koch included in her remarks a strong and inspiring reinforcement for the younger generation: “The people that saw the Apollo years couldn’t even have imagined this moment. Now, the Artemis generation will think and know that this is how we best flourish — we do it together.”
Artemis II commander, Capt (U.S. Navy) Reid Wiseman, reflected on the fact that he will be “flying into space with the greatest that we have. These are amazing people. But the thing that we have to do is make sure that we’re ready to go. That means fostering a relationship with everyone that has helped us get there — with mission control, with the contractors and, most importantly, with our families, making sure that we are all together on this mission. It is all of us who are going.”
Following the panel discussion, the Prime Minister and Minister Champagne were invited to attend a reception hosted by Space Canada and Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC).