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Canadian Space Agency and MDA Sign Contract to Define Mission to Mars

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2002

Vancouver, B.C., September 19, 2002 - Allan Rock, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency, announced today the awarding of a $400,000 contract to MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) of Richmond, B.C., to support the Canadian Space Agency in defining Canada's contribution to European missions to Mars, and the NASA-led Mars Science Laboratory mission. 


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Landing safely on the Red Planet is a critical element of any Mars mission. The study to be undertaken by MDA will include an assessment of the design, development and use of laser-based sensor technology to land spacecraft on the surface of Mars. As a world leader in robotic technologies, Canada will also be considering its role in the development of a robotic mining device that will extract samples of the planet's subsurface and prepare them for scientific study.

"I want to congratulate the Canadian Space Agency and MDA on undertaking this important venture," said minister Rock. "The results of this study will help define Canada's potential role in upcoming missions to Mars, contribute to Canadaís development of new knowledge and cutting-edge technologies, and firmly establish and enhance British Columbia's profile as a valuable partner in space exploration."

Mars holds a special appeal for the scientific community and may help unlock some of the most fundamental questions about life in the universe. "This is the next big step in space exploration," said Mag Iskander, head of the MDA Robotics Group. "This smaller, lighter robotic technology should provide considerable spin-off benefits to robotic applications here on Earth."

Minister Rock made the announcement as part of the opening of an International Space Station exhibit at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver.

The public-private collaboration between the Canadian Space Agency and MDA has resulted in the design and production of the Canadarm for the space shuttle and the new Canadarm2 for the International Space Station. MDA is also a key partner in the delivery of satellite images and data products and services culled from Canada's premiere Earth observation satellite, RADARSAT-1.

About MDA

MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates is an information company that provides essential information from anywhere in the world for decision making in the workplace. The company operates its business through two principal groups: the Information Products Group delivers essential land information products and services that encompass legal, asset and geographical information; the Information Systems Group provides mission-critical information systems for monitoring activities on the planet, managing mobile assets and enabling the mobile workforce. The company employs over 2,000 people around the world

About the Canadian Space Agency

Established in 1989 with its headquarters situated in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) co-ordinates all aspects of the Canadian Space Program. Through its Space Knowledge, Applications and Industry development business line, the CSA delivers services involving: Earth and the Environment; Space Sciences; Human Presence in Space; Satellite Communications; Space Technology; Space Qualification Services; Space Awareness and Education. The Canadian Space Agency is at the forefront of the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.

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For more information:

Monique Billette
Senior Communications Officer 
Canadian Space Agency
Telephone: (450) 926-4370
E-mail: monique.billette@space.gc.ca

Ted Schellenberg
Media Relations
MacDonald Dettwiler
Telephone: 604-231-2215
E-mail: teds@mda.ca

Selena Beattie
Office of Allan Rock
(613) 995-9001

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