OTTAWA, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- The Canadian Space Agency says it's in talks with NASA to launch a rover beyond Earth orbit aboard NASA's huge new deep space rocket.
Canada recently unveiled seven rover prototypes, some of which have been field-tested and have impressed NASA officials, and impressed officials with the U.S. space agency, Gilles Leclerc of the Canadian Space Agency said.
NASA is considering including a rover on an early mission of its space launch system rocket set to become operational in the early 2020s, Leclerc said, noting the discussions between the two agencies are only preliminary given uncertainty about future NASA funding which could impact mission plans.
"I don't want to speak for NASA -- it is touchy -- but there are opportunities for missions around the moon or on the moon," Leclerc, the CSA's director-general of space exploration, said. "You can certainly envisage automatic robotic missions to the moon."
NASA has not discussed any possible SLS missions beyond the first two, a flight in 2017 to send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit and another potential flight in 2021 to take a crew beyond the moon.
"NASA does not have plans for either [mission] to land on a foreign surface," NASA spokeswoman Rachel Kraft told SPACE.com.
"As we continue to define future mission requirements, NASA anticipates that we will continue to engage in co-operative activities with CSA involving Canadian rovers and associated technologies," Kraft said in a statement.