As the heads of the worlds five largest space agencies meet this week in in Quebec City Canada, many industry leaders will be watching. A ctv.ca article earlier this week went as far as to suggest that Canada could play a key role in a new international space race, with the next sprint to the moon gearing up as an extra-terrestrial gold rush.
They will also address an idea gaining currency in business and scientific circles: that within human reach lies an unfathomable wealth of resources, some of them common on Earth and others so exotic that they could change the way we live.
As Canada has nearly one-quarter of the world's top mining companies, many hope that Canadian firms will be involved with any discussion of lunar exploration. Several countries, including China, have expressed a desire to start mining the moon's resources. The mining industry in Canada is now waiting for the Canadian Space Agency to make its intentions known, while the agency awaits direction from the Canadian federal government.
"When members of the international space community decide to go to the Moon or Mars, the CSA and Canada will be ready to contribute," the agency told The Canadian Press in an email last week. In co-operation with NASA and several Canadian firms, The CSA has already begun developing a number of prototype lunar rovers.
The testing of these prototypes on Earth, with special drills for excavating, has already begun and more tests are planned this summer in Hawaii. The next phase would involve building space-bound rovers -- but the CSA can't move forward without federal approval.