Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"Up to $18.4Mln" More for the Downsview Aerospace Hub

          By Chuck Black

Finance Minister Oliver. Photo c/o Twitter.
After almost five years of "official" campaigning and a further fifteen years of preliminary proposals and politicking, the still not built Downsview Park aerospace hub and its centerpiece, the new Centennial College Aerospace campus, have been offered up more money.

Maybe this time, the facilities will even get built.

As outlined in the July 22nd, 2015 Canadian government press release, "Canada's Aerospace Industry to Reach New Heights in the GTA," Finance Minister Joe Oliver made the announcement that "up to" $18.4Mln CDN would be made available for Centennial College's Downsview Park Aerospace Campus under the Infrastructure Canada New Building Canada Plan.

Reaction to the announcement has been decidedly mixed.

The July 22nd, 2015 Toronto Star article, "Feds promise money for Centennial College aerospace hub," considered the announcement to be simply the latest in a series of similar announcements intended to sway the electorate in advance of the upcoming federal election, currently expected sometime on or before October 19th, 2015.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (left) tours a Centennial College aviation/avionics labs with Centennial College President Ann Buller. As outlined in the March 2014 Site Canada article, “Cultivating Ontario’s Aerospace Future at Downsview Park,” the provincial government, city leaders and an assortment of economic development entities then stood firmly behind the venture. Photo c/o Queens Printer.

And the July 22nd, 2015 Globe and Mail article, "Ottawa’s funding announcement for Tory riding blindsides Ontario," goes even further by quoting Ontario liberal government representatives as stating that that the new funding was "unanticipated" and "bypassed Ontario’s infrastructure wish list."

The article also quoted Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid as stating that it's not clear from the announcement when or how the money will be distributed. Duguid also called into question “whether they (the conservatives) are actually making a real commitment (to the plan).”

Downsview Park, part of the York Centre federal electoral district which was once considered one of the safest of Federal Liberal seats, is currently held by conservative MP Mark Adler

Perhaps the real mover and shaker behind the plans for a Downsview aerospace hub is Andrew Petrou. The co-founder of the Downsview Aerospace Cluster for Innovation and Research (DAIR) and the special projects officer to the president's office at Centennial College, is shown here presenting plans for the DAIR Research Hub at Downsview Park in February 2014. As outlined in the November 14th, 2014 OMX blog post, "The Upcoming Downsview Aerospace Hub," it's "only been recently that we’ve been able to put together the major players needed to get a facility of this nature off the ground in Canada." According to Petrou, "up until now, the players have been trapped in silos and unable to engage in the cross pollination and communication necessary to build a true innovative culture.” In part, this may still be the case. Photo c/o Alex Urosevic/MEDTE.

Of course, it's not as if the current provincial government under Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne is totally against the project. After all, as outlined in the January 22nd, 2014 Centennial College press release, "Centennial's Aerospace Centre cleared for take-off," her government also contributed $26Mln CDN in the not so distant past.

And, as outlined in the September 11th, 2011 post, "Canadian Aerospace Heritage or Hockey Rink?," Downsview Park was also once the home of the Canadian Air and Space Museum, which would certainly add to the current confusion over plans for any new faculties on the property. Until a home for the museum is found, there will be those wishing to return it to its original location.

Chuck Black
Taken together, these items are strong suggestions that the political ducks are not yet properly aligned to move potential plans forward.

Until they are, don't expect any movement on this front.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

This Week in Space History: July 28th - August 3rd

          Compiled by Matt Heimbecker

Here are a few of the more noteworthy entries in the Space Library covering the week of July 28th - August 3rd:

  • July 28, 1969 - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineers sent signals to Mariner VI to turn on its TV camera and scientific experiments that would measure Mars surface characteristics and atmosphere. The spacecraft (launched on February 24th as part of the first "dual mission" to Mars along with Mariner VII) would begin taking the first of 33 far-encounter pictures 771,500 miles from Mars beginning early July 29th. Full-disc photos would be received at JPL on July 29th.
  • July 29th, 1993 the team behind the Array of Low-Energy X-ray Imaging Sensors (ALEXIS) satellite, which was launched into orbit April 25th on board an Air Force Pegasus rocket for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, announced that scientists now expect to get much of the data they seek from the damaged satellite. Officials at the New Mexico laboratory had hoped to demonstrate that they could handle space missions faster, better, and cheaper than NASA. However, one of the satellite's four solar panels was damaged during the launch, and the satellite was deemed a loss. Unmanned satellites frequently diagnose their own maladies, make adjustments needed to survive, and allow themselves to be reprogrammed in orbit. This is what happened to ALEXIS, which on July 5th was brought under control and a week later conducted its first experiment. The craft used six telescopes to capture x-rays that could reveal evidence of weapons proliferation, and it carries an experiment designed to determine how Earth's atmosphere distorts radio signals.

Page one of an eleven page document which rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard created in order to receive US patent #1341053 for a "magazine rocket" in 1920. The document is one of many available in electronic format at The Space Library

  • July 30th, 1982 - Cosmonauts Anatoly Berezovoy and Valentin Lebedev made a space walk from the orbiting station Salyut 7 to disassemble and partially replace worn out equipment on the station's exterior and study opportunities for doing various jobs outside it. After they donned space suits, Lebedev left the station for the "zone" of operations, while Berezovoy remained in the open manhole to film his walk for television. They dismantled and passed into the station a micrometeorite-measuring instrument and some panels with optical and various structural materials that had been outside the station since its launch April 19th.
  • July 31st, 2008 - A team of scientists led by Robert H. Brown of the University of Arizona, Tucson, announced in the journal Nature that NASA’s ESA spacecraft had gathered evidence that Saturn’s moon Titan has at least one lake of liquid hydrocarbons. The discovery made Titan the only known celestial body, besides Earth, to have liquid on its surface. Data from previous fly-bys had shown that Titan has several features that appear to be lakes, but scientists had been unsure whether these bodies contained liquid or solid material.
  • August 1st, 1963 - The MARINER II interplanetary space probe completed its first orbit of the sun, after traveling approximately 540,000,000 mi. Launched Aug. 27th, 1962, the spacecraft passed within 21,648 mi. of Venus Dec. 14th, 1962, and provided 111 million bits of information on Venus and interplanetary space.
  • August 2nd 1991 - The scheduled launch of Atlantis on August 1st was delayed by a false alarm over a pressure valve and then by bad weather, the media reported. The launch was then rescheduled for August 2nd. The astronauts' first task after takeoff was to launch the $120Mln USD ($156.5Mln CDN) Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, which was done successfully.

The first page of a three page 1936 German patent issued to Rudolf Nebel, a spaceflight advocate active in Germany's amateur rocket group, the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR – "Spaceflight Society") in the 1930s and in rebuilding German rocketry following World War II. The document one of many available online at The Space Library.

  • August 3rd, 1975 - The Philadelphia Inquirer reported  space expenditures resulted in tangible economic benefits, according to a report, "The Economic Impact of NASA R&D Spending," being prepared for NASA by Chase Econometric Associates, Inc. Using methods developed for regular national economic forecasts, Chase predicted that, if NASA's research and development budget were increased by $1Bln USD ($1.3Bln CDN) for the 1975-84 period, the US gross national product (GNP) would swell by $23Bln USD ($30Bln CDN) or 2% over the normal rate of growth. Labor productivity in the non-farm areas of the economy would rise more than 2% over the normal growth rate, and more than one million jobs would be created, reducing the unemployment rate by nearly 0.4% by 1984.
The Space Library, designed and built by the people at Burlington, Ontario based Apogee Books, is currently in beta test but even now contains 6,656 documents and over thirty thousand pages of first generation source materials from NASA and others covering almost the entirety of humanity's expansion into the high frontier.

Access to all the documents contained within the The Space Library is only $5.00 CDN a month. For more information, please click on the links below.

Your $5.00 CDN monthly subscription will help to support both the Space Library and 
the Commercial Space blog.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Space Economy Now $330Bln US Annually, Says Report

          By Glen Strom

After years of steady, respectable growth hovering around 7% per annum, the global space industry appears to be on the cusp of a new era of rapid expansion in both capabilities and customers. At least those are the conclusions embedded within The Space Report 2015: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity.

The eighty five page report, prepared by the Colorado Springs, CO based Space Foundation (a nonprofit organization that advocates for the global space industry) with input from the not-for-profit European trade association Eurospace, was released earlier this month.

According to the report, in 2014, the global space economy grew slightly more than 9%, reaching a total of $330Bln USD ($430.5Bln CDN). 

Commercial space activities such as telecommunications and Earth imaging made up approximately 76% of the total. 

From 2005 - 2014, the industry as a whole demonstrated a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%, nearly doubling in size over the course of the decade.

One of the more interesting items in the annual Space Report is the ability to compare the budgets of the national space agencies. For example, according to this chart, on page 22 of the 2015 Space Report, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) funding grew by 11.8% between 2013 and 2014 which compares quite well with other space agencies and puts the CSA in fourth place behind the United Kingdom (with a 31.4% budget increase during that same period), South Korea (a 29.9% increase) and Japan (an 18.8% increase). But a second chart on page 26 of the report indicated that CSA funding for 2015 will be expected to drop back to  $410.3Mln CDN in 2015 and $360.3Mln CDN in 2016. The source for the second chart is the Canadian Space Agency 2014-15 Report on Plans and Priorities. Graphic c/o Space Foundation.

The report noted that the global space industry was attracting new customers just learning to make use of space assets like satellite imagery to enhance their businesses. Some of these industries provide communication and lifestyle products and services that a rapidly growing number of people use in their day-to-day lives.

The report even went into detail concerning the benefits of using space assets to deliver products and services to government organizations, private commercial companies, industry, law enforcement and public education organizations. Given that the report was compiled by two space advocacy organizations, this seems like a perfectly reasonable addendum to the main report.

The international space industry is a $330Bln per annum behemoth which receives slightly less than one quarter of its revenue from national governments through agencies like the CSA, the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Source Space Foundation.

Other highlights of the report include:
  • Satellite launches during 2014 increased 38% over 2013, with cube satellites accounting for a large part of the increase. The sector lost 13.6% of its value, though, due to the reduction of high-value military launches.
  • Almost 80% of satellites launched were placed in low Earth orbit (LEO).
  • Ground stations and equipment made up 94% of the commercial infrastructure and support sector within the space industry.
  • Broadcasting is a major part of the growth of the space industry with direct-to-home television accounting for US$95Bln USD ($124Bln CDN), or 77% of the market’s estimated revenues in 2014.
  • In the United States, the space industry workforce continued to shrink by about 6,000 people. It also grew older, with the average age at about 46 years old.
  • Although NASA is shrinking, Europe's space workforce has grown by 7,600 employees since 2005. The growth in Europe is not spread evenly, though. France, Germany and Spain saw growth—the other countries saw a decrease
  • Support industries like insurance, data analysis and basic research and development activities are joining more traditional areas such as launch vehicles and satellite design, manufacturing and testing as significant generators of revenue and new jobs. 
Glen Strom.
Although the data is skewed toward the United States, The Space Report 2015: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity offers a good overview of the world’s growing space economy.

The report, and the additional data available by subscription, can be a useful addition to an organization’s short and long-term planning.
Glen Strom is a freelance writer and editor with a background in business and technical writing. He's also the editor of The Gazette Weekly, the newsletter of the Canadian Space Society.