Canada and UK Forge Ahead with CASTOR Telescope Project in Space Exploration Partnership

Credit: CASCA

The (CSA) and the (UKSA) have solidified their collaboration through a Memorandum of Understanding, focusing on joint ventures under the UKSA’s Science & Exploration Bilateral Programme. One significant project under this agreement is the Cosmological Advanced Survey Telescope for Optical and uv Research () telescope, led by .

CASTOR is described as a “1-meter class space telescope concept on a small platform,” aimed at revolutionizing astrophysics with its capabilities in UV and optical imaging, surpassing ground-based telescopes in image resolution.

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The Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) outlined the UKSA’s involvement, confirming that funds have been allocated for -led science definition, detector testing, and development work on data flows and optics. A recent delegation from the UKSA visited Canadian institutions in Montreal and Honeywell Aerospace, culminating in a reception in Ottawa.

CASCA reported, “UK-led science definition work focuses on TDAMM, galaxies, near-field cosmology, and solar system science; an initial coordination meeting between the Canadian and UK science teams was held on June 13.”

Meanwhile, progress has been noted in the Space Technology Development Program contract, managed by ABB, which concluded with a final review meeting elevating Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) for critical mission components. This includes advancements in opto-mechanical design, Focal Plane Arrays, Fast Steering mirror prototyping, precision photometer, grism, and UVMOS.

Formal export licenses have been approved after months of negotiation, allowing detailed technical information to be shared with UK and LAM (Latin America) partners.

Despite these advancements, CASTOR remains in its preliminary planning phase. CASCA indicated ongoing efforts with CSA to define Phase A statement-of-work items, contingent on CASTOR . Negotiations between CSA and NRC (National Research Council) on funding and planning shared activities are progressing, awaiting final government approval of the mission and all international partnerships.

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