Building the next Canadarm

News release

Canada looks to Canadian company MDA to build Gateway Canadarm3 for Artemis Deep Space Missions

June 26, 2020 – Longueuil, Quebec

Canada is taking another important step forward in its participation in the next chapter of Moon exploration. Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced Canada intends to enter into a contract with Brampton-based company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Inc. (MDA) to build Canadarm3.

This smart robotic system is Canada's contribution to the United States-led Lunar Gateway for the Artemis program, the next major international collaboration in human space exploration, which forms the cornerstone of Exploration, Imagination, Innovation: A New Space Strategy for Canada. The development of Canadarm3 will extend and strengthen Canada's well-established global leadership in space robotics. It will also help grow our economy, create the jobs of tomorrow, and get young Canadians interested in pursuing studies and careers in STEM disciplines.

Canadarm3 will be composed of a next-generation smart robotic arm, a small dexterous arm and a set of specialized tools. Using advanced machine vision, cutting-edge software and advances in artificial intelligence, this highly autonomous system will be able to perform tasks without human intervention.

With four decades of expertise gained from flagship space robotics programs like the original Canadarm, Canadarm2 and Dextre, MDA is at the centre of a dynamic ecosystem of innovative small and medium-sized businesses and research organizations from across the country. Hundreds of Canadian companies are expected to be involved in the development of Canadarm3, working with MDA and research organizations to drive innovation and Canadian excellence in emerging technologies. The development of Canadarm3 will involve the application of the Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) Policy, which will ensure the participation of the broader Canadian supply chain and help motivate investments in key industrial capabilities within Canada's space sector.

In 2019, Canada became the first nation to join the United States-led Lunar Gateway, the next major international collaboration in human space exploration following the legacy of the International Space Station. The Gateway is an important part of an ambitious plan by NASA and international partners, including Canada, to send humans deeper into space than ever before.


"Our Government is committed to the future of space exploration and ensuring Canada remains a global leader in space robotics. Our commitment to contribute Canadarm3 to the Lunar Gateway will generate high-quality jobs and economic benefits for Canadians while ensuring that our space industry continues to lead and grow. Canada will continue to push the boundaries of human ambition in space exploration, and inspire generations of kids – and adults – to always aim higher and aspire to something greater."

- The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

"As the Government of Canada's central purchaser, my department is working closely with the Canadian Space Agency to build the next-generation Canadarm. We are proud to be leveraging our world-leading, domestic expertise in space robotics to contribute to future space exploration, while creating opportunities for our small and medium enterprises here at home."

- The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Quick facts

  • In February 2019, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $2.05 billion over 24 years in Canada's participation in lunar initiatives, including building Canadarm3 for the Lunar Gateway and establishing the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP).

  • With the application of the ITB Policy, Canadian-built space robotics for the Gateway are estimated to contribute up to $135 million annually to Canada's GDP, and create and maintain some 1,300 high-quality jobs for Canadians, over an estimated 10-year build period.

  • To maximize the socio-economic benefits of Canada's partnership in the Gateway, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) created LEAP to prepare Canada's space sector, including small and medium-sized businesses, for missions to the Moon and beyond. Through LEAP, the CSA is offering a wide range of funding opportunities for Canadian science and technology activities on the Moon's surface, in the lunar vicinity, and beyond.

  • Technologies developed for space bring innovations that find their way into many areas of our lives. For example, the technology from Canadarm2 and Dextre is being used for life-saving medical robotics—just one remarkable example of where Canada's space robotics have delivered transformative spin-off technologies that are improving the lives of Canadians and people around the world.

  • The ITB Policy ensures prime contractors undertake business activities in Canada equal to the contract value. Canada's ITB Policy supports key industrial capabilities, such as space systems and artificial intelligence, to ensure procurements can strategically drive innovation, exports and the growth of Canadian firms.

Associated links


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