The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) may soon start using private moon landers to explore the lunar surface.
The CSA has signed a memorandum of understanding with Florida-based company Moon Express, which is developing a family of spacecraft with the aim of slashing the cost of robotic trips to the moon and other deep-space destinations.
The agreement also states that the two partners will promote opportunities for collaboration involving Moon Express, the Canadian space industry, and colleges and universities in the nation.
"Moon Express is excited to support the Canadian Space Agency in a new era of lunar exploration," Moon Express CEO Bob Richards, who was born in Canada, said in a statement Wednesday (Oct. 3).
"Successful collaborations between the CSA and private industry have put Canadian technology on the surface of Mars, and soon near asteroids," Richards added. "We look forward to working with the CSA to develop new opportunities for Canadian science and technology in the exploration of Earth's eighth continent, the moon, and its vast resources."
Moon Express is a former entrant in the Google Lunar X-Prize, which ended earlier this year without a winner. The company aims to set up a low-cost lunar-transportation system and also help access and extract resources on Earth's nearest neighbor — especially water ice, which appears to be abundant on the floors of permanently shadowed craters near the lunar poles.
Moon Express is dreaming even bigger than that, however: Richards has said that the company eventually aims to help humanity push out farther into space, to Mars and beyond.
It's been a busy week for the company. On Monday (Oct. 1), Moon Express announced that it had secured $12.5 million to help fund the development of its spacecraft.
Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There," will be published on Nov. 13. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.