Mission Control software puts Canada on the moon
When Ewan Reid passionately describes that his software is going to the moon next year, it’s hard to imagine he almost became a banker.
But an exciting opportunity at an aerospace company and landing a job as a shuttle flight controller at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2008 changed his course and set him on the path to working in the aerospace industry.
Ewan Reid, founder and CEO of Mission Control based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Reid is the founder and CEO of Mission Control, an Ottawa-based space exploration and robotics company incorporated in 2015. From its humble beginnings to producing software destined for the moon, the company has reached new heights and will mark a significant milestone next year.
Mission Control teamed up with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to help a small rover navigate the moon’s terrain. Mission Control’s cutting-edge artificial intelligence software operates robots via the Internet.
Back on earth, Mission Control’s software will send data almost in real time to scientists at 4 Canadian universities who will work with the Dubai space centre team to decide where the rover should go.
This partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre allows Mission Control to demonstrate their technology for the first time in space.
“This is the first Canadian software, the first Canadian computer, the first Canadian artificial intelligence to go to the moon,” said Reid. “I’m really proud of our team and honoured for us to be, in a way, representing Canada on the Emirates’ lunar mission.”
A rover drives around Mission Control’s 4,000-square-foot room that was built to look like the surface of the moon.
There’s no doubt that Mission Control is ready for its first foray into space, which could open up many opportunities for the company.
They’ve been practising with the little bit of “space” they brought to their office: a 4,000-square-foot room constructed to look like the surface of the moon, where they drive rovers using their software.
Dubbed the “moonyard” by the company, it’s a testing facility with sand, rocks, craters, black walls and lights that simulate the sun where Mission Control and partners can practise before going on real moon explorations.
Mission Control was proud to share their world-class facility and software in Dubai in 2021. Reid and several colleagues travelled to Expo 2020 Dubai and the International Astronautical Congress to share their work with a global audience.
“It’s critical in the space industry to work with international space organizations. Almost no space missions can be completed by a single country,” said Reid. “Going to something like Expo is really important for us to build those relationships, those partnerships, and ultimately execute exciting and important space missions.”
Apeksha Budkhar, a project engineer with Mission Control, uses the company’s software to drive a rover in the “moonyard.”
Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) has helped Mission Control explore markets in Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.
During a trade mission to the United Arab Emirates in 2019, Reid met with officials from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre for the first time.
And in Japan, the TCS introduced Reid to ispace, a lunar exploration company that is crucial to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre mission. An ispace lander will carry the space centre’s rover and Mission Control’s software to the moon.
The TCS ensured Mission Control had a “soft landing” in international markets to forge new partnerships for this Ottawa start-up company and help it reach new heights.
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