Space science and exploration

Space science and exploration is defined as the understanding of our solar system and the universe as well as increasing knowledge of chemistry, physics, and life sciences by carrying out leading-edge experiments in the unique environment of space. Canada will partner on the next major human exploration and science mission, the US-led Lunar Gateway mission. An outpost in the lunar vicinity, the Gateway will open a new frontier for the exploration of the Moon.

Highlights of Canadian Capabilities

The Gateway will support human and robotic exploration, creating opportunities to support innovation, grow the economy, create the jobs of the future, and inspire young people to develop the skills they will need to succeed. The Gateway will be a science laboratory, a testbed for new technologies, a rendezvous location for exploration to the surface of the Moon, a control centre for operations on the Moon, and one day, a stepping-stone for voyages to Mars. Canada aims to be a leading member of the next effort to push humanity into space, just as Canada was with the Space Shuttle program and the International Space Station (ISS).

Canada’s participation in the Gateway will open new opportunities for space science in Canada, including global partnership opportunities for Canada’s astronomers and planetary scientists to continue their efforts to probe the origins of the universe and explore new worlds. Space provides a unique perspective for space scientists to observe our planet, the health of our ecosystems and how our planet interacts with the Sun (e.g. space weather), and to learn more about our solar system and the universe we inhabit.

In 2016, the Government provided $379 million for Canada’s continued participation in the ISS and secured future Canadian astronaut flights. Continued participation in the ISS program and full utilization of the ISS facilities contributes to the achievement of Canada’s science and exploration objectives.

Canada is renowned for the exceptional instruments on its science satellites. Unique data collected from Canada’s space assets enable the Government to make evidence-based decisions that keep Canadians safe, monitor and protect our environment, support a range of economic sectors, and allow Canada to remain a key partner in global security and defence networks.

Major projects


International Partnerships

Legislation and Regulations

Civil International Space Station Agreement Implementation Act

The Civil International Space Station Agreement Implementation Act is an Agreement among the Government of Canada, Governments of Member States of the European Space Agency (ESA), the Government of Japan, the Government of the Russian Federation, and the Government of the United States of America concerning Cooperation on the Civil International Space Station and to make related amendments to other Acts.

Find more information on the Civil International Space Station Agreement Implementation Act visit Justice Laws Website.

Cooperation Agreement between the Government of Canada and the European Space Agency

The Cooperation Agreement between the Government of Canada and the European Space Agency is a long lasting cooperation for exclusively peaceful purposes, in the fields of space research and technology and their space applications, established between Canada and the Agency since 1979.

Find more information on the Cooperation Agreement between the Government of Canada and the European Space Agency visit Global Affairs Canada.

Government support

Strategic Innovation Fund

Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) spurs innovation for a better Canada. Specifically, it serves to simplify application processes, accelerate processing, and provide assistance that is more responsive and focused on results. SIF allocates repayable and non-repayable contributions to firms of all sizes across all of Canada's industrial and technology sectors, across several funding streams.

Space Technology Development Fund

The Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) Space Technology Development Fund (STDP) supports innovation to grow Canada’s space industry and reduce technological unknowns. The program issues contracts to Canadian organizations for the development of technologies to support future needs of the Canadian Space Program and non-repayable contributions to Canadian organizations to support the development of innovative technologies with strong commercial potential.


SmartEarth is the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) renewed funding initiative related to Earth observation applications development. It fosters a smart use of satellite data to develop solutions to key challenges on Earth and in our everyday lives.

Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP)

The Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP) is a CSA program that is looking to foster innovation in areas of strength for Canada, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, science and health. It will support the commercialization of innovative ideas from Canadian industry, including small and medium-sized businesses, in order to help them become an integral part of the growing new-space economy. With a specific focus on deep space, LEAP will enable the Canadian space sector to develop and conduct science experiments designed for lunar conditions, advance and demonstrate innovative technologies in lunar orbit, the lunar surface, and beyond, and develop technologies that will be required as part of future deep-space missions.

European Space Agency

Canada is the only non-European cooperating state in ESA. The Cooperation Agreement between Canada and ESA allows Canada to be part of the ESA's decision-making process. Through this unique agreement, Canadian organizations can bid on tenders for ESA contracts related to activities and programs in which Canada participates. It provides opportunities for them to create alliances with European industry and access to space qualification or flight opportunities for their technologies and products.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is responsible for unique scientific and technological achievements in human spaceflight, aeronautics, space science, and space applications that have had widespread impacts on the U.S. and the world. Canada has become a unique partner for NASA and one of the few partners entrusted with mission critical elements. The CSA is currently participating in several flagship missions including the ISS. More information on CSA-NASA collaborations can be found on the CSA website.

Visit our Programs and Initiatives page to learn more about government programs that help support businesses develop and commercialise of space innovations.

Other Resources

Visit our resources page to find out more about resources that can help you support your business.