International Cooperation in Space Highlighted With Signing of New U.S.-Canada Framework Agreement

International Cooperation in Space Highlighted With Signing of New U.S.-Canada Framework Agreement

The United States and Canada signed a new framework agreement for space cooperation today, providing an opportunity for new NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden to stress the importance of international cooperation to NASA programs.

“As NASA continues to enhance the scientific observation of our planet and the solar system, we are looking to Canada and our other international partners to play key roles in our future exploration plans.”

The framework agreement provides general terms and conditions for future cooperation between the two countries in human space flight, exploration, space science, and earth science.

Canada and the United States have a long history of space cooperation dating back to 1962. Among the more historic NASA launches of Canadian satellites was Canada’s scientific satellite Alouette-1 in 1962, and the Anik-A1 communications satellite 10 years later. Anik-A1 was the world’s first domestic communications satellite in geostationary orbit. (The United States was the first country to have geostationary communications satellites, beginning with Syncom in 1963, but until 1974 the U.S. satellites were used only for international traffic.)

Images from many space shuttle missions show Canada’s “Canadarm” robotic arm being used for a multitude of tasks, making it probably the best known example of U.S.-Canadian space cooperation. Canada also is a partner in the International Space Station (ISS), for which it built Canadarm2 and its “special purpose dexterous manipulator,” or “Dextre” as it is now known. Several Canadian astronauts have flown on the space shuttle and ISS, including Steve MacLean who is now the head of the Canadian Space Agency.

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