Joshua Kutryk, with links to Elk Point and Two Hills area, could be part of history in the coming years. This will be the first manned mission towards to the moon since 1972 and would see the first non-American in deep space.
The Canadian Space Agency will be heavily involved in future moon missions following the signing of the Artemis Accords earlier this year and the Gateway Treaty last week.
The Artemis missions are intended to lay the foundation for sustainable human and robotic exploration of the moon, including the first moon landing since 1972.
Joshua Kutryk is a Canadian astronaut currently based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Originally from the Two Hills region, Kutryk started his career as a test pilot at CFB Cold Lake.
According to Kutryk, they’re building the next generation of space stations to orbit around the moon.
“What you should think of it as is sort of the ship offshore, so we’re getting ready to try to do sustainable exploration of the moon. And this is sort of the first step into that we put a space station in orbit around the moon from which we can do resupply, and from which we can facilitate missions to and from the surface,” said Kutryk.
“It’s a big project, it’s pretty ambitious. Canada’s supplying all the robotic technology to build and then maintain the space station. And as a result of that, we’re definitely involved in some of the missions.”
One of the missions Canada will be involved in is Artemis II, a crewed test flight of the Orion spacecraft expected to take place in 2023. Another is Artemis III, which will land a man and a woman on the surface of the moon in 2024.
“It’ll be the first time humans go back to the moon since 1972, and actually be the first time anyone other than an American goes into deep space. And that person, that first person outside of the United States, we now know, is going to be Canadian. So it’ll be someone from the Canadian Space Agency, and that’s pretty remarkable,” said Kutryk.
Humans have had a continuous presence in outer space for the past 20 years, and Canadian Col. Chris Hadfield lived on the International Space Station from December 2012 to May 2013, spending two of those months as the Commander.
“We’re now taking everything with that concept, and we’re moving it 1000 times further,” said Kutryk. He said there are two motivating factors to building a space station in the moon’s orbit.
“One is to support the surface exploration missions. And two is to support science in that lunar orbit. But really, if you look at the whole picture, it’s all about putting us in a position where we can do science on and around the moon, learn from that science make that discovery. I mean, really, that’s why we do all of this,” said Kutryk.
He said there’s a lot of science which can be done in the moon’s orbit that just isn’t possible on earth, including things like planetary science and geology on the surface of the moon.
“We’re also in a position from which we can actually control robotic science being done on the surface of the moon,” said Kutryk.
He said one of the exciting things about the robotics technologies being developed for the Canadarm3 is the spinoff discoveries he’s sure will come.
“It has to do with the fact that the discoveries we make and building the technology to solve these problems in space, always end up finding many, many more uses here on Earth,” said Kutryk. As an example, he said the technology used in Canadarm2 is now used by neurosurgeons to operate on patients while they are inside of an MRI machine.
“The most exciting thing for me really is that Canada is involved in such a forward way, we’re leading from the front as we always have. We were deeply involved with the Space Shuttle Program. The space station, it depends on Canada every day, it wouldn’t have been built without Canada.
“It’s very exciting for me to know that this next giant leap for humanity is going to have Canada right there beside the United States leading I think that’s very important. It’s very inspirational. And that’s important, too, for folks to grow up and see that Canada is part of this and able to do these awesome out of this world things,” said Kutryk.
He said there has never been a better time to be interested in outer space than right now because space exploration is about to explode.
“We’re at the point where someone has crossed the ocean once, they barely got across, they barely made it back. And no one could really understand why you would want to do that or where the opportunity was or how you would do it. But of course, 100 years after that, it had completely changed the world. I mean, that’s where we are at space, this generation is going to see human beings on Mars, I’m convinced of that. Those people are alive today. They’re probably in middle school somewhere,” said Kutryk.