Blog

07.12.2019

Fostering Space Exploration Through International Cooperation

By: Mike Gold, Maxar’s Vice President of Civil Space


Read Time: 4 minutes

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo, it’s an excellent opportunity to reflect on the amazing accomplishments of the past while looking ahead to the future. Here at Maxar Technologies, we are thrilled and honored to be a part of the Artemis program. Artemis (the twin sister of Apollo), is aptly named since NASA’s objective is to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon and establish a permanent human presence on the lunar surface and in lunar orbit.

To achieve these goals, NASA is building the Gateway, which will act as a command module to support landing astronauts on the surface of the Moon by 2024 while demonstrating key technologies and capabilities to enable human missions to Mars and beyond. NASA has entrusted Maxar to take the first step on the Artemis journey by selecting our company as the corporate partner to produce the Power and Propulsion Element that will serve as the cornerstone of Gateway. Unlike Apollo, the Artemis strategy is to establish infrastructure around the Moon that will result in a robust ecosystem for public and private activities. Moreover, Artemis will further develop and demonstrate key technologies, such as Solar Electric Propulsion, to take NASA to Mars.

Another difference between Apollo and Artemis is international cooperation. Under Artemis, it’s not just the U.S., but the entire world that will be going forward to the Moon. NASA is actively engaged with both traditional ISS partners (e.g., the European Space Agency, JAXA, and the Canadian Space Agency) and new partners from countries such as the United Arab Emirates, India, and Brazil.

In support of this international vision, I had the honor of joining the U.S. delegation to the 62nd Session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). COPUOS is comprised of over 90 countries, all with a strong interest in space exploration. During the 1960s, such a large gathering of international space representatives would have been nearly unimaginable. Today, many of these countries will be participating in the Artemis program. During the COPUOS, I had the unique opportunity to describe Artemis and Gateway to the Committee members, with a specific focus on the power and propulsion element.


Just like the rest of Artemis, the power and propulsion element will be international in nature. Maxar is already reaching out to countries such as Japan and the United Arab Emirates to discuss rideshares for lunar orbits, landers, and scientific instruments. We hope that the power and propulsion element will be a platform for not just NASA, but the world. Therefore, during COPUOS, I invited all of the nations present to join us in this extraordinary journey to the Moon.


Additionally, we should never forget that the activities we conduct in space are able to vastly improve life here on Earth. During my visit to Vienna, I met with Simonetta Di Pippo, the Director of the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). Dr. Di Pippo, her staff, and I have been discussing how Maxar can leverage its geospatial imaging and analytics capabilities to further improve disaster relief efforts, enhance global agriculture, and stop human trafficking. In recognition of Maxar’s growing relationship with the United Nations, I presented a satellite image of the Vienna International Center to Dr. Di Pippo and UNOOSA. Thanks to the terrific work of Paul Granito, Rhiannan Price, and Maxar’s London office, a foundation has already been laid with the UN which we’re eager to grow via a new and expanded relationship with UNOOSA.


Unfortunately, I traveled to Vienna on Father’s Day, and missed a planned trip to see the Washington Nationals with my wife and son. However, per the attached pictures, I did manage to still see a baseball game in Vienna (the Austrian Baseball Federation never disappoints) and I got to visit another family, the members of the COPUOS. Ultimately, we’re all brothers and sisters on this unique and precious planet who share a common dream of traveling to the stars. It’s always an inspiring experience to participate in the COPUOS, and also to be a member of the Maxar family which, via the power and propulsion element, will transform those dreams of space exploration into a reality for our country and the world.

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