Former astronaut Dave William says that David Saint-Jacques’s spacewalk Monday sets the stage for the next generation of astronauts and Canada’s role with the Lunar Gateway project.

“This is a historic moment for Canada,” he told CTV News Channel.

Williams, a highly decorated doctor and Order of Canada recipient, completed a record three space walks during his time at the International Space Station in August 2007.

“I was able to speak to David on Saturday,” he said. “We chatted about what it’s like going outside to do a spacewalk and it’s those first few minutes when you’re in space -- it’s truly incredible moving around … in such a unique environment.”

Williams stated that today’s spacewalk will inspire the next generation “of Canadian astronauts who are watching todays spacewalk dreaming of becoming an aerospace engineer, or building the future generation of the Canadarm.”

“It’s all about what we’re doing on board the ISS, [but also] setting us up for the future, those missions beyond Earth’s orbit,” he continued.

Canada is one of the major partners in the “Lunar Gateway Project,” a NASA endeavor that aims to build “a permanent human presence on the Moon within the next decade.” This includes plans for a spaceship that will orbit around the Moon to assist with missions to the lunar surface for scientific research.

“It’s exciting to see Canada’s leadership role,” said Williams. The station is expected to be fully functional around 2026.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s involvement with the Lunar Gateway earlier this year he explained that Canada’s major contribution will be developing a smart robotic system – the Canadarm 3 -- to assist with repairing and maintaining the outpost.

Trudeau said that the partnership in the Lunar Gateway project will see the government invest $2.05 billion over 24 years, creating hundreds of jobs and contributing $100 million annually to Canada’s gross domestic product.