The government has made a commitment to extend Canada's support and participation in the International Space Station mission for another four years, or until 2024.  The announcement was included as part of the new federal budget.

Canada's announcement makes it the third major partner to agree to continue the project until 2024, with both the United States and Russia already committing to support the project until that time as well.  However, the other key partners in the space station, the European Space Agency and JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, have not yet extended their commitments past 2020.

The new federal budget also provides an additional $30 million over four years beginning in 2016-17, to support the research and development of technology in Canada's satellite communications sector.  Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, which represents over 700 of the countries aerospace companies, praised the budget for providing what it called essential funding for the Canadian Space Agency. President Jim Quick said in a statement that the measures are another step as the association and the government continue to work together on a long term vision for Canada's future in space.

Canadian astronauts are currently waiting in a long line before they can participate in a mission aboard the ISS. For missions, there is a bartering system.  Under that system, countries collect "credits" based upon their contributions to the development of the space station.  These credits can then be exchanged for trips to the station.

Under the current system, Canada is not even in a position to send active astronauts up for a mission. 

"They (Canadians) have another opportunity that's projected, but not out until the 2019-2020 time frame, just depending on how the balance of contributions works out," NASA chief astronaut Bob Behnken says. "So if they wanted to fly more often, they unfortunately would have to contribute more to the space station."

When the head of the Canadian Space Agency Walt Natynczyk was contacted about these timeframes, he had nothing new to add.

"We're working with the international community or the partnership with the International Space Station to see when is the next opportunity that we can get one or both of our astronauts into space," Natynczyk said on April 20. "I wouldn't want to speculate on any time, but rather work bilaterally with NASA and then multilaterally with the other partners."

With this new commitment to the station, it looks as though Canada is poised to continue its support and maybe even contribute even more.  While there is still no confirmed Canadian astronauts mission, the possibility exists that extended its support could help alter its current position in the future.