The Canadian Space Agency has awarded communications giant MDA two contracts to assess possible Canadian contributions to future space missions beyond low-Earth orbit.
Under one contract, MDA (TSX:MDA) will assess the application of Canadian robotic technologies to potential missions such as NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission.
That mission includes a robotic spacecraft rendezvous with a small asteroid near the Earth.
The asteroid would then be captured and redirected to a safe orbit on the far side of the moon.
In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama challenged NASA to send astronauts to an asteroid. But reaction in the American Congress has been lukewarm and the proposal has not generated much enthusiasm.
CSA president Walt Natynczyk recently told The Canadian Press the agency had not indicated any interest in taking part in the program.
Under the second contract, MDA, which is based in Richmond. B.C., would look at a possible Canadian contribution to a deep-space habitat.
The habitat mission would establish a platform or staging area approximately 60,000 kilometres beyond the moon.
The platform would serve as a servicing or fuelling depot for future deep-space exploration missions.
MDA has 16 Ottawa-based employees.