Monday, May 29, 2017

Satellite Data for Disaster Management, Super Telescopes & $950Mln for Canadian "Superclusters"

          By Henry Stewart

For the week of May 29th, 2017, here are a few of the stories we're currently tracking for the Commercial Space blog:

  • Canadian satellite data is being used to assist emergency response efforts in Russia.
As outlined in the May 29th, 2017 update to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Natural Disasters page, "as part of its participation in the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters," the CSA is providing RADARSAT-2 satellite imagery to support relief efforts and help mitigate the effects of this natural disaster." 
The webpage also noted recent torrential rains in Russia which have "caused flooding in Stavropol Krai, Russia." A state of emergency has been declared in the region and "at least six villages and towns are affected." According to the website, "more than 1000 homes have been flooded and over 3000 people evacuated."
Other recent efforts to assist with disaster recovery efforts include Sri Lanka (May 2017), Chile (May 2017), Canada (May 2017), Haiti (April 2017), Colombia (April 2017) and Peru (Spring 2017).
The Canadian efforts are part of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters, which is an international effort to put space technology at the service of rescue and emergency responders in the event of a major disaster. 
According to their website, the "International Charter aims at providing a unified system of space data acquisition and delivery to those affected by natural or man-made disasters through Authorized Users. Each agency member has committed resources to support the provisions of the Charter and thus is helping to mitigate the effects of disasters on human life and property."
  • The next "super telescope" has begun construction in Chile. 
As outlined in the May 29th 2017 Mail Online post, "Construction begins on the world's first 'super telescope' that could help astronomers find alien life," the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), currently being built in Chile, is designed to help astronomers peer back to the first galaxies 14 billion years ago. 
As outlined in the article, "when completed, it will be the world's largest optical telescope, some five times larger than the top observing instruments in use today." 
The current design comprises a reflecting telescope with a 39.3-metre-diameter (126 foot) segmented primary mirror and a 4.2-metre-diameter secondary mirror, and will be supported by adaptive optics, six laser guide star units and multiple large science instruments, according to the Jun. 14th, 2011 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) post, "Europe Downscales Monster Telescope to Save Money."
Comparison of nominal sizes of primary mirrors of the above extremely large telescopes and some notable optical telescopes. Graphic c/o Wikipedia.
There are at least four other telescopes which qualify as "super telescopes," either completed, planned or under construction. They are:
  • The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), a ground-based extremely large telescope, consisting of seven 8.4 m (27.6 ft) diameter primary segments, currently under construction, and planned for completion in 2025.
  • The Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), also known as the Great Canary Telescope, a 10.4 m (410 in) reflecting telescope located at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in the Canaries, Spain.
According to the September 2000 post, "A Skeleton Science Case For Extremely Large (20m - 100m) Ground Based Telescopes (ELTs)," an extremely large telescope (ELT) is an astronomical observatory featuring an optical telescope with an aperture for its primary mirror from 20 metres up to 100 metres across.
ELT's are considered especially useful for a variety of scientific applications including:
  • Detecting habitable planets. 
  • Seeing the surfaces of other stars.
  • Seeing near black hole event horizons in the galaxy center
They are also considered useful for monitoring man made activities like Moon colonization, since they would be able to detect objects and details on the lunar surface as small as 2 metres, and for detecting small, man-made objects in space.
Innovation minister Bains announcing the supercluster initiative at the offices of BlackBerry Ltd. in Kanata, Ontario on Wednesday, May 24th. Photo c/o CBC News.
  • The Federal government has offered up $950Mln CDN in order to fund the creation of 'superclusters' of expertise, which it says will "create more middle-class jobs and more opportunities for Canadian businesses to grow into globally successful brands."
As outlined in the  May 24th, 2017 CBC News post, "Ottawa offers $950 million for 'superclusters' to create jobs," the new funding is intended to create "up to five" superclusters in specific industries such as advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean resources, clean technology, digital technology, health/biosciences, infrastructure and transportation.
As outlined in the article, "each supercluster will be a non-profit consortium created by large and small companies, along with post-secondary educational institutions or non-profit organizations. Applications will be accepted from both Canadian companies and international companies with Canadian operations."
Of course, much still remains to be learned about the initiative and not everyone is even on board with the plan as it stands. As outlined in the May 26th, 2017 Toronto Sun post, "Navdeep Bains proposes the wrong kind of supercluster," the government is not very good at predicting the next big economic trend, and will likely only end up providing short term funding to supporters and those capable of filling out the expected paperwork. 
For more, check out our upcoming stories in the Commercial Space blog.
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Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Rocket Lab Launches "Orbital Class" Rocket From a Private Launch Pad

          By Brian Orlotti

New Zealand-based Rocket Lab has successfully launched the first of its 3D-printed carbon-composite Electron rockets. The launch marks another major milestone in the rise of the NewSpace industry.

A video of the first flight of the Rocket Lab Electron rocket from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, in Mahia New Zealand on May 25th, 2017. As outlined in the March 22nd, 2017 New Zealand Herald post, "Rocket Lab raises $100m - launch possible within the next two months," the total cost of the program, "once it is past the test stage," was approximately $75Mln US ($101Mln CDN) with most of those funds raised through the private sector (US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and the Government of New Zealand have also contributed). The latest round was led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Data Collective, with additional investment from Promus Ventures. As outlined in the article, "Rocket Lab also attracted reinvestment from Bessemer Venture Partners, Khosla Ventures and Sir Stephen Tindall's investment firm K1W1. The Series D funding round - the company's fourth round of investment - increased Rocket Lab's total level of investment to US$148Mln US ($200Mln CDN)." The company is now valued at more than US$1Bln US ($1.35Bln CDN), which seems like a pretty good return on investment. Screenshot c/o Robot Pig. To view the complete video, simply click on the screenshot. 

As outlined in the May 25th, 2017 Popular Mechanics post, "Rocket Lab's 'Electron' Marks First Orbital-Class Launch From a Private Pad," the Electron flew from Rocket Lab’s facility at Mahia, New Zealand after three days of aborted attempts due to weather.

Though the rocket reached space, it did not achieve orbit. Nevertheless, the launch is considered a successful step towards achieving Rocket Labs’ goal of launching satellites and other payloads for various customers. Rocket Lab’s engineers will now sift through flight data to prepare for a second test launch sometime this summer.

The company plans three test flights before it begins commercial launch services later this year. Rocket Lab's customers include NASA and private firms Planet, Spire, Spaceflight and Moon Express, a team competing in the $30Mln US ($40Mln CDN) Google Lunar X-Prize.

Rocket Lab was founded in 2006 by New Zealander Peter Beck, the company's CEO and CTO. In 2009, Rocket Lab launched the Ātea-1 sounding rocket. In December 2010 Rocket Lab was awarded a contract from the US Dept of Defence’s Operationally Responsive Space Office (ORS) to study a low cost space launcher to place nanosatellites into orbit.

Infographic comparing the Electron rocket to the SpaceX Falcon Heavy and the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) plus showing the location of Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the tip of the Mahia Peninsula, on the North Island of New Zealand. The size and payload of the Electron rocket compare favorably with a 2009 Canadian Space Agency (CSA) concept study which, as outlined in the April 22nd, 2016 post, "2009 Canadian Space Agency Report on Indigenous Canadian Launcher said "Yes!" But CSA Didn't Move Forward," could certainly have been built in Canada without the need to import technology from any other country. Graphic c/o Rocket Lab/ Graphic News.

The Electron is a two-stage, carbon-composite launch vehicle designed to deliver payloads of 150 kg to a 500 km Sun-synchronous orbit; the target range for the growing small satellite market. The rocket is powered by in-house built Rutherford engines (after the New Zealand-born physicist Ernest Rutherford) that burn a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene.

The Rutherford engine incorporates new innovations to minimize weight and cost. These include fuel pumps powered by battery-fed electric motors rather than a gas generator, expander, or preburner. In addition, the engine is fabricated mostly via 3D printing, using electron beam melting, in which layers of metal powder are melted in a high vacuum by an electron beam rather than a laser. When the Electron goes into full production, Rocket Lab expects a launch rate of over 50 times a year.

The Electron’s projected cost is less than $5Mln USD ($6.7Mln CDN) per launch.

With the launch of the Electron, New Zealand now joins Earth’s space-faring nations. Rocket Lab’s success proves the wisdom of the NewSpace business model and provides a lesson for other nations, including our own.
Brian Orlotti.
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Brian Orlotti is a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Part 11: A History of the Canadian Space Program - Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets

The 2000's, Chris Hadfield, Canadarm 2, Dextre, MOST, SciSat, CloudSat, Telesat, RADARSAT-2 and Emerson's Shadow





Political cartoon c/o Halifax Chronicle Herald.
By Graham Gibbs & W. M. ("Mac") Evans

This paper, first presented at the 65th International Astronautical Congress, which was held in Toronto, Ontario from September 29th - October 3rd, 2014, is a brief history of the Canadian space program, written by two of the major participants.


The decade of 2000 saw important events in the life of the Canadian space program. In 2001 Chris Hadfield flew to the International Space Station (ISS) and became the first Canadian to do a spacewalk as he helped install the first piece of Canada’s contribution – the large robotic arm now called Canadarm 2.

In 2002 the second part of our contribution, the mobile base that gives the arm the mobility necessary to reach all parts of the station, (also known as the Mobile Remote Servicer Base System) was launched and successfully installed on the station. And in 2008 the final robotic component, the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM), also known as Dextre, was installed.


In 2003 the CSA launched Canada’s first space telescope, the Microvariability of Oscillations of Stars (MOST) along with SciSat, an instrument to probe the chemical constituent of the atmosphere as part of the search to understand the causes of the holes in the ozone layers.

In 2005 a Canadian cloud profiling radar instrument was our contribution to NASA’s CloudSat spacecraft.

These major scientific instruments are a direct result of LTSP II’s commitment to increase substantially the funding for space science.

At the end of 2007 RADARSAT 2 was launched (though the launch for data arrangement envisaged with NASA did not materialize – but that is another story all together). In 2008 Canada’s meteorological instrument on NASA’s Mars Phoenix spacecraft began measuring Mars weather.

In the decade Telesat launched Anik F1 and Nimiq 2. Since its creation, Telesat has now launched more than fifteen spacecraft.


For six months between December 2012 and May 2013 Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield participated in ISS Expedition 34/35 and became the first Canadian to be honoured with the task of Space station commander. Hadfield conducted over 130 science experiments and in his spare time tweeted about life in space and posted 88 videos explaining the many fascinating aspects of life in micro-gravity. He had more than 885,000 followers on Twitter and his videos had been viewed close to 23 million times.

The future of the Canadian space program from a policy perspective is less clear.

In November 2012 the Aerospace and Space Review (also known as the "Emerson Review"), mandated by the Government of Canada, issued Volume two of its report that covered the space sector under the title: "Reaching Higher Canada’s Interests and Future in Space."

It made substantive, pragmatic and by most accounts welcome recommendations with regard to the management and future directions of the Canadian space program.

As outlined in the December 3rd, 21012 post, "Initial Feedback from the Emerson Report," the Canadian aerospace community, including major players like Telesat, MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) and the Aerospace Industry Association of Canada (AIAC) all reacted favorably to the report recommendations. Screenshot c/o Commercial Space blog.

The Emerson Review provided a list of challenges and opportunities facing the Canadian space sector which formed the basis of their recommendations. The first challenge listed was clear and unequivocal:
The first lies within government: inadequate clarity of purpose with respect to Canada’s space program and its role in providing services and advancing national priorities. This lack of focus appears to go back at least a decade and has been manifested in weak planning, unstable budgets, and confusion about the respective roles of the CSA and those government departments that are major space users. In a sector whose undertakings are, by definition, long-term, expensive, and complex, it is especially important to have concrete goals, predictable funding, and orderly implementation.
Given the clarity of the Review’s recommendations, it is appropriate to highlight them:
Recommendation 1: Canadian Space Program Priorities.
The government explicitly recognize the importance of space technologies and capacity to national security, economic prosperity, and sustainable growth, and that the Minister of Industry bring 10- year, 5-year, and annual government-wide priorities for the Canadian Space Program to the Cabinet Committee on Priorities and Planning, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, for discussion and approval each spring.
Recommendation 2: An Advisory Council.
The government establish a Canadian Space Advisory Council, reporting to the Minister of Industry, with membership from industry, the research and academic communities, provinces and territories, and federal departments and agencies.
Recommendation 3: Disciplined Governance and Implementation.
A deputy minister-level Space Program Management Board be created to coordinate federal space activities, project-specific arrangements be put in place to ensure disciplined project management, and all agencies and departments with a role in the Canadian space program be required to report on how they are implementing priorities set out by Cabinet.
Recommendation 4: Predictable Funding.
The Canadian Space Agency’s core funding be stabilized, in real dollar terms, for a 10-year period; major space projects and initiatives be funded from multiple sources, both within and beyond the federal government; and increased international cooperation be pursued as a way of sharing the costs and rewards of major space projects and initiatives.
Recommendation 5: Early Project Scoping.
The scope of space projects, project timelines, and performance requirements be finalized as early as possible in the project definition phase.
Recommendation 6: Competitive bids that Encourage Innovation, Control Costs, and Build the Canadian industry.
Space asset and service procurement processes be competitive in nature and proposals be assessed on the basis of their price, responsiveness to scoped requirements, and industrial and technological value for the Canadian space sector.
Recommendation 7: Support for Technology Development.
Total funding for the Canadian Space Agency’s technology development programs be raised by $10Mln CDN per year for each of the next three years, and that it be maintained at that level.
Recommendation 8: Encouragement of Commercial Space Activity.
Where costs are modest and there is no risk to public safety, the government create conditions conducive to the expansion of space-related commercial activity.
The Government’s initial response to the Emerson Review came some fourteen months later in February 2014 and was in the form of the a Space Policy Framework.

The download page for the 2014 "Canada's Space Policy Framework." As outlined in the February 9th, 2014 post, "Conservatives Form Committees; NDP Says "Incompetence Crippling Space Sector!," the report, a follow-up to the 2012 Emerson Review, was far less well received. Graphic c/o Government of Canada.

The Space Policy Framework listed five core principles that will be used to guide the government’s management of the Canadian space program. These are:
  • Canadian interests first - Canadian interests include issues related to national sovereignty, security and prosperity.
  • Positioning the private sector at the forefront of space activities - This will be done by supporting and using the domestic space industry to bring cutting-edge technologies to market that meet national interests.
  • Progress through partnerships - Partnerships will be encouraged at both the national and international level.
  • Excellence in key capabilities - To support and advance proven Canadian competencies while keeping a close watch for new technological niches.
  • Inspiring Canadians. The government recognizes that space is a highly visible means of motivating young Canadians to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Through the Space Policy Framework the government has implemented all the budget neutral recommendations of the Emerson Review.
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Graham Gibbs & Mac Evans. Photos c/o MyCanada & CSA.
Graham Gibbs represented the Canadian space program for twenty-two years, the final seven as Canada’s first counselor for (US) space affairs based at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC. 

He is the author of "Five Ages of Canada - A HISTORY from Our First Peoples to Confederation."

William MacDonald "Mac" Evans served as the president of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) from November 1991 to November 2001, where he led the development of the Canadian astronaut and RADARSAT programs, negotiated Canada’s role in the International Space Station (ISS) and contributed to various international agreements that serve as the foundation of Canada’s current international space partnerships.

He currently serves on the board of directors of Vancouver, BC based UrtheCast and as a member of the Federal government Space Advisory Board.

Last Week: "More on the 1990's, the CSA, 'On-Going Budgets,' a 3rd 'Long-Term Space Plan,' 
New Astronauts, More Satellites but Never Enough Funding" in part ten of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets."

Next Week: "Lessons and Conclusions" as part twelve of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets," concludes the series.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Attempting Relevance, the Canadian Space Agency Announces Industry Focused & Small Business Funding

          By Chuck Black

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has issued another in a series of mostly expected announcements of opportunity (AO) for new programs funded under its longstanding Space Technology Development Program (STDP).

It's not that there's anything wrong with that. It will just be interesting to see if the CSA continues down this path when the Liberal government unveils its high-level follow-on to the previous Conservative 2014 Space Policy Framework later this year.

As outlined first in the April 3rd, 2017 post, "The Canadian Space Agency is "Very" Cautious About Its Post ISS Role," the CSA has embarked on its present course of action before receiving feedback from the Space Advisory Board (SAB), which was supposed to "consult stakeholders to define key elements" of an expected revision to Canada's space policy. Given the short time-frame for consultation (the SAB only announced its membership and began a series of public meetings in April), the CSA's current independent path and the Liberal governments acknowledged embrace of the 2012 David Emerson led Aerospace Review (which strongly suggests that there will be no radical course changes in the near future), it's just possible that the real role of the SAB was to build support for an already crafted policy. We'll find out sometime this summer. Screenshot c/o buyandsell.gc.ca.

There were two slight surprises in the CSA's current offering.

First of all, and as outlined in the May 24th, 2017 post on the Federal government Buy and Sell procurement website under the title, "Space Technology Development Program (STDP) Industrial Capability-Building Contributions (9F063-20170131)," the new programs are focused on business, not academia, and intended "to support the development of Canadian industrial capabilities in the area of space technologies for the purpose of increasing the commercial potential of Canadian space companies."

Applications are "limited to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations established and operating in Canada," and explicitly exclude academic institutions. While academics are "encouraged" to sign up to the program as "consultants to the recipient," they are not eligible to apply directly.

Secondly, the program includes a specific small business focused component. 

And while it's not quite the US originated program advocated in the May 11th, 2017 post, "CATAAlliance Calls for Adaption of the US Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program," it is at least an implicit reversal of the longstanding CSA position that both small and large companies can compete on a level playing field for the same CSA programs. 

That position, first outlined in the July 24th, 2009 post, "OK, So Maybe the CSA Does Provide Some Support for Small Aerospace Firms...," was never taken terribly seriously in the real world, mostly because small businesses have far fewer lawyers able to comprehend and respond to the normal paperwork generated by the typical CSA funded program.

Two of the reasons why the US SBIR program is so successful also relate to why the program will likely never be adapted in Canada. The program depends on "set-asides" totaling 2.9% of the extramural budget of all US government agencies engaged in R&D and with budgets in excess of $100Mln US ($135Mln CDN). The program also operates in concert with the US Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, another "set-aside" program to facilitate "co-operative R&D between small business concerns and US research institutions." In essence, SBIR costs money and is not a stand alone program. Graphic c/o August 2015 Small Business Administration Office of Investment & Innovation SBIR-STTR Presentation

The new AO is organized into three separate categories:
  • STDP AO 4.1 Space R&D - A program focused around commercialization opportunities, which will award "non-repayable" contributions of up to $2Mln CDN per "space technology project that expect commercial potential in the short to medium term (i.e. 2 to 5 years)."
  • STDP AO 4.2 Space R&D Small Business - Like the title says, this is an explicitly small business focused program, targeted at firms with up to a maximum of 50 employees. The AO will award "non-repayable" contributions of up to $200K CDN per space technology project "for the purpose of increasing the commercial potential of Canadian small space companies."
  • STDP AO 4.3 Space R&D Feasibility Studies - A program focused around feasibility studies and system design, which will award "non-repayable" contributions of up to $100,000 per project for "studies that expect commercial potential in the medium to long term (i.e. 5 to 10 years)."
While these new CSA programs are slightly more relevant to the current and future structure of the Canadian and international space industry (they're at least targeting industry rather than focusing on academia), it's also worth noting that the new programs provide far smaller amounts of funding for far higher amounts of paperwork and oversight than most other funding options.

After all, we live in an age where, as outlined in the April 3rd, 2017 post, "UofT Undergraduate Satellite Builders Raise Almost $500K to Build & Launch a Microsatellite in 2019," a small not-for-profit student satellite company can be funded with student fees far in excess of what the Federal government is able to offer.

Can our government funded space industry keep up with the private sector? Stay tuned.
Chuck Black.
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Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Part 10: 150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History

MDA's Rise, Spar's Fall, STEM Antenna's,  the Space Shuttle, the Canadarm, 

COMDEV & Optech 




          By Robert Godwin
Canada's aerospace raison d'être has always derived from its immense size, its location in the far north as a vast, barely-tracked wilderness of incalculable resources and the logical requirements relating to defence, communications, utilization and exploration which naturally follow from its size and location.

While MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA), Canada's newest aerospace company, was capitalizing on its first paid work, the well-established SPAR Aerospace suddenly came under attack.

The United States government had determined that the STEM antenna had become a strategic asset and so the Congress ordered American companies to reverse-engineer the device.

This decision came just a few years after the Soviet Union had already done the same thing and had deployed STEMs on many of their own satellites. In fact Soviet-built STEMs were sitting on the surface of Mars aboard the first spacecraft to soft-land on the red planet. In response to this existential threat SPAR purchased Astro Research in California, and the production of STEMs moved south of the border.

STEM had been aboard all three of America's manned spacecraft and SPAR's Vice President John Macnaughton was determined to have the company play a role in the next generation too – the Space Shuttle.

Despite the Telesat Canada Act, which was supposed to guarantee that Canadian satellites be built in Canada, the first geosynchronous communications satellite for Canada, the Anik A-1, was built by Hughes Aerospace in California. SPAR and RCA vigorously protested this decision and managed to win back contracts for some of the work. This had the fortunate side-effect of demonstrating to Hughes that the two Canadian companies could perform excellent work which led to many other satellites being built in Canada under contract to Hughes.

However, when the Nixon administration announced that it would be going ahead with the space shuttle program it was the potential to provide NASA with robotics which attracted SPAR to the program.

Then Spar Aerospace chairman Larry Clarke, left, and president John MacNaughton were optimistic about projects such as US Space Station Freedom and its potential for Canadian technology sales when this photo was taken in 1990. Space Station Freedom eventually morphed into the International Space Station (ISS) after funding cutbacks forced the US government to solicit international partners. Photo c/o Virtual Reference Library.

An arm designed to capture incoming spacecraft and bring them in to safely dock with a space station had been discussed at de Havilland for at least a decade. Canada was also leading the world in nuclear reactor design and in handling nuclear fuel rods. This capability would give Canada a head start when it came to robotic manipulators. George Klein had been involved in the first nuclear reactor built in Canada and had gone on to contribute to the world-class CANDU reactor. He had also invented the world's first electric wheelchair and was an expert on gearing.

In 1969 NASA issued a contract to study potential remote manipulator systems for the upcoming manned orbital workshop (later known as Skylab). The report was filed in July of 1970 and it compared the usefulness of extravehicular mobility unit (or EMU, also known as "backpacks") to stand-alone service vehicles (also known as "bottle suits") and gear driven robotic manipulator arms.

One of the candidates put forward was a multiple jointed robotic arm and hand made up of a connected series of STEMs. This system could theoretically reach around the Skylab station and perform useful tasks while being steered by an operator inside the pressurized confines of the Skylab multiple docking adapter module.

Klein's STEM had already been used throughout the 1950s as a way of deploying beacons. Then in the 1960s it had done sterling service as the antenna of choice on dozens of spacecraft. Now it was being considered as the basis of a space manipulator system.

Initially the contract pursued was for the proposed space telescope, but Macnaughton wanted SPAR to also bid on a robotic manipulation system for the shuttle. The simple STEM which had started life as a rapidly deployable antenna for trucks and aircraft was to about to give birth to the most sophisticated robotic tool to ever fly in space.

Skylab would fly in 1973 without a remote manipulator system, an oversight which in hindsight almost caused the entire mission to fail. The first crew had to conduct spacewalks to save America's first space station due to various deployment failures after launch. One of the main solar panels had not extended; an issue which presented STEM with yet another opportunity. STEMs would later be used for solar panel deployment on many spacecraft.


While SPAR investigated the future of space robotics the aircraft industry was still in some chaos. In May of 1974 the Government of Canada purchased de Havilland Canada from Hawker Siddeley for $38.8M. This was the beginning of the government's attempt to further consolidate and manage the Canadian aerospace sector.

Eighteen months later they purchased Canadair from General Dynamics (for $38Mln CDN) which at that time was manufacturing long-range patrol aircraft for Lockheed. A few months later Canadair announced plans to build a civilian jet designed by William Lear of Learjet. None of this consolidation resolved the still outstanding problem of what kind of fighter interceptors were going to patrol Canada's home shores. The Voodoo was now considered to be old technology and a whole new generation of fighters were being concocted in the factories south of the border.

Val O'Donovan. Photo c/o Waterloo Region Museum.
Also in 1974 two Canadians working in Quebec both launched new companies with an eye to continuing Canada's primary leads in communications and atmospheric and resource studies. They were named ComDev and Optech. Both companies came out of the research laboratories at RCA Canada. ComDev became a household name under the leadership of Michael Valentine O'Donovan.

O'Donovan had figured out a new way to multiplex radio transmissions. His device would make satellites more versatile and lighter. In his seminal paper he wrote, "In multi-channel microwave radio relay systems it is sometimes necessary to have a number of transmitters and receivers simultaneously utilizing the same aerial. To achieve this a complex branching system is necessary."

O'Donovan would take this concept and build one of Canada's pre-eminent aerospace companies. Over more than three decades Com Dev's fortunes waxed and waned but their technology remained first class. Like many companies its long history and line of products and patents eventually attracted a foreign takeover.

Optech's Alan Carswell had created an advanced Lidar with help from York University. It was one of the sensor systems which Lapp had recommended to the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) back in 1969.

Optech adapted Lidar technology to create portable, versatile systems which could map and study the ground and atmosphere in ways never before anticipated and made Optech into a world leader in the field.  
Robert Godwin.
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Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books, the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum and an American Astronautical Society History Committee Member.
He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series "The NASA Mission Reports" and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music.  
His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called "2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey" about the history of spaceflight at the movies.
Last Week, "The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Synthetic Aperture Radar, SEASAT, John Macdonald and MDA,'" in part nine of "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History."

Next Week, "Spar, SeaSat and more," as part eleven of "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History" continues.

On sale now, at Apogee Books.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bombardier's Challenges

          By Brian Orlotti

Over the past few weeks, tottering plane and train maker Bombardier has faced a series of upheavals that have put its already shaky future on even even more unstable ground. Those upheavals, reminiscent of an earlier age of confusion and cancelled Canadian built planes, suggest lessons for both the Canadian aviation and space industries. 

A Bombardier C100 in Delta Airlines livery.  As outlined in the May 23rd, 2017 Leeham News and Comment post, "Delta shoots down Boeing’s CSeries dumping claim," not all US corporations are onside with the Boeing claim that Bombardier is "dumping" aircraft into international markets. Photo c/o Bombardier.

As outlined in the May 11th, 2017 CBC post, "Bombardier's Pierre Beaudoin to quit executive role," just hours before the company’s annual meeting in Dorval, QC, it was announced that Pierre Beaudoin, scion of the Bombardier family, was stepping down as Executive Chairman as of June 30th.

The news came amid a wave of public and shareholder outrage over board-proposed executive pay hikes of nearly 50%, despite massive employee layoffs, billions in debt still on its books and hefty bailouts from both the Quebec and Federal governments. Beaudoin later renounced the pay hikes and executives postponed their compensation plan to 2020. 

Prior to the annual meeting, five of Canada's largest pension fund managers along with several large American institutional investors had stated that they no longer supported Beaudoin’s re-election as Executive Chairman, opposed Bombardier's executive compensation plan and withdrew support for several director nominees. Beaudoin remains non-executive chairman of the company’s board of directors while Alain Bellemare, who replaced Beaudoin as CEO in 2015, remains in place as Chief Executive Officer.

Beaudin in the National Post. As outlined in the May 10th, 2017 Canadian Press article, "Canada’s largest pension fund manager and Alberta fund oppose Bombardier pay policy," the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Alberta Investment Management Corp. "joined several large institutional investors in withholding support for the re-election of Bombardier’s executive chairman and opposing the company’s executive compensation plan." Two days later, and as outlined in the May 11th, 2017 National Post article, "Bombardier chairman re-elected to the board amid public uproar over pay, steps back from executive role," Beaudin was re-elected as Bombardier chairman but promised to reduce his role in the company. Photo c/o National Post.

In an effort to bolster its dwindling cash reserves, and as outlined in the May 18th, 2017 Financial Post article, "Bombardier in talks with Chinese aircraft manufacturer for potential investment: report," Bombardier is allegedly in talks with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. (Comac), a state-owned aircraft maker considering either an investment in Bombardier’s aerospace division or the taking a stake in the CSeries aircraft program itself.

Comac and Bombardier’s relationship goes back some years. In 2012, the two firms signed an agreement to find commonalities between the Comac C919 and Bombardier Cseries jets to reduce training and maintenance costs. Bombardier has also advised Comac on its ARJ-21 regional jet, which went into commercial operation in 2016 after years of delays. The two companies have also considered joining forces to compete against aerospace behemoths Boeing and Airbus.

Perhaps by no coincidence, on May 18th, Boeing petitioned the US Commerce Department and the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate subsidies (such as the $ 3Bln CDN bailout money from the Quebec and Federal governments) of Bombardier's CSeries aircraft that it says have allowed the company to export planes at well below cost.

As outlined in the May 18th, 2017 CBC News post, "Cross-border aircraft rivals Bombardier, Boeing clash in trade hearing," preliminary meetings on the issue are ongoing and a determination on the petition is expected by June 12th. 

Bombardier also builds trains, and as outlined in the May 13th, 2017 Toronto Star post, "How do Toronto's light rail vehicles compare? It's Bombardier versus Alstom," Bombardier is also having difficulties in this area as well. As outlined in the post, "after a protracted dispute with Bombardier about delays to its light rail vehicle order for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx has taken the drastic step of placing an order for cars with another company." Photo c/o Randy Risling/ Toronto Star File Photo.

If the ITC determines there is a threat of injury to the US industry, preliminary countervailing duties could be announced in July, followed in October by preliminary anti-dumping duties, unless the deadlines are extended. Final determinations are scheduled for October and December. Boeing is calling for countervailing duties of 79.41% and anti-dumping charges of 79.82%.

Quebec Premier Couillard gesturing. Photo c/o Clement Allard / CP.
The US government’s investigation of Bombardier is the latest shot in the US’s escalating trade disputes with Canada and an ill portent for the NAFTA renegotiation triggered by US President Trump on May 18th and expected this summer.

In retaliation, and as discussed in the May 19th, 2017 St. Louis Post Dispatch post, "Boeing scrambles to save deal to sell St. Louis-made F/A-18s to Canada," the Canadian Government has announced that it will review its planned $2Bln CDN purchase of 18 Boeing Super Hornet fighters as a stop-gap measure before running a full competition to replace Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18s.

Amidst the frustration and anxiety over Bombardier’s present and future came a counterpoint from Quebec’s premier.

As outlined in the May 22nd, 2017 Presse Canadienne post, "Québec needs to take care of Bombardier, says Couillard," after visiting a Bombardier plant in Haifa, Israel, Premier Philippe Couillard stated that Quebec needs to take care of Bombardier because of its unique importance to the province.

But Boeing, as outlined in the May 23rd, 2017 post BNN post, "In Bombardier fight, Boeing sees ghost of Airbus ascent," remembers the growth of another direct competitor and is not likely to give up this time without a fight.

Will Bombardier suffer the same fate as Nortel and RIM or, like the auto industry, be deemed "to big to fail?" Stay tuned.
Brian Orlotti.
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Brian Orlotti is a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Part 10: A History of the Canadian Space Program - Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets

More on the 1990's, the CSA, "On-Going Budgets," a 3rd "Long-Term Space Plan," 

New Astronauts, More Satellites but Never Enough Funding





The 1999 Federal Budget. C/o fin.gc.ca.
By Graham Gibbs & W. M. ("Mac") Evans

This paper, first presented at the 65th International Astronautical Congress, which was held in Toronto, Ontario from September 29th - October 3rd, 2014, is a brief history of the Canadian space program, written by two of the major participants.

When the government established the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in 1989 the only budget it provided was for specific programs. The second Long-Term Space Plan (LTSP II) did the same.

The CSA did not have an “on-going” budget like all other government departments and this created significant long term planning problems. This was rectified in Budget 1999 when the government provided an on-going budget of $300Mln CDN per year (approximately the level of funding for the Canadian space program in 1990).

Associated with this new method of funding was the injection of $430Mln CDN of new funding over three years to finance several new space initiatives. These initiatives were the result of the government’s approval of LTSP III which included a re-balancing of the Canadian space program.

For the first time, the earth observation activities of the CSA received the largest portion of the space budget (almost 30%) while the remaining major activity areas (human presence in space, science, satellite communications, and technology development) each received about 15%.

The 1990’s saw a flurry of activity in Canada’s space program.

The 1992 crop of Canadian astronauts included (clockwise from top left) Marc Garneau, Chris Hadfield, Bjarni Tryggvason, Steve MacLean, Mike McKay, Dave Williams, Julie Payette and Robert Thirsk. Only McKay never reached space. As outlined on his CSA bio, "he resigned as an astronaut in 1995, but remained active in the program until 1997 working on projects such as the space vision system and the robotic arms for the International Space Station. After leaving the military in 2001, McKay joined the private sector." Photo c/o CSA.

Three new astronauts were selected (Chris Hadfield, Dave Williams, and Julie Payette). There were more astronaut flights (eight) in the 1990’s than ever before or since, including Chris Hadfield’s flight to the Russian Mir space station in November 1995.

RADARSAT 1 was launched in 1995, propelling Canada into the select list of nations to have its own earth observation satellite and immediately capturing more than 15% of the world market for remote sensing data.

Mobile Satellite (MSAT) was launched providing mobile communications services across Canada and the US. Canadian scientific experiments flew on the shuttle and on the Russian space station Mir. Canada’s first instrument for interplanetary exploration was launched aboard a Japanese satellite (which unfortunately in 2003 missed Mars). Telesat (which in 1992 had become totally privatized when the government sold its shares in the company) launched two new satellites (Anik E1 and E2) and the nation’s first direct broadcast satellite (Nimiq).


To close the decade, in 1999, Canada’s Measurement of Pollution in The Troposphere (MOPPIT) science satellite was launched.

A new Space Policy Framework was adopted giving new policy direction to the Canadian space program. Canada’s participation in the International Space Station (ISS) program was re-confirmed after coming close to termination. And finally, the CSA was put on a stable, long-term (but insufficient, according to the space community) funding basis.
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Graham Gibbs & Mac Evans. Photos c/o MyCanada & CSA.
Graham Gibbs represented the Canadian space program for twenty-two years, the final seven as Canada’s first counselor for (US) space affairs based at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC. 

He is the author of "Five Ages of Canada - A HISTORY from Our First Peoples to Confederation."

William MacDonald "Mac" Evans served as the president of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) from November 1991 to November 2001, where he led the development of the Canadian astronaut and RADARSAT programs, negotiated Canada’s role in the International Space Station (ISS) and contributed to various international agreements that serve as the foundation of Canada’s current international space partnerships.

He currently serves on the board of directors of Vancouver, BC based UrtheCast and as a member of the Federal government Space Advisory Board.

Last Week: "The 1990's, The Second Long-Term Space Plan, SCISAT, RADARSAT-2 & 'Competitive Procurement'" in part nine of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets."

Next Week: "The 2000's, Chris Hadfield, Canadarm 2, Dextre, MOST, SciSat, CloudSat, Telesat, RADARSAT-2 and Emerson's Shadow," as part eleven of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets," continues.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Part 9: 150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History

The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Synthetic Aperture Radar, 

SEASAT, John Macdonald and MDA




John MacDonald in 2008. Photo AM Jackson/Globe and Mail.
          By Robert Godwin
Canada's aerospace raison d'être has always derived from its immense size, its location in the far north as a vast, barely-tracked wilderness of incalculable resources and the logical requirements relating to defence, communications, utilization and exploration which naturally follow from its size and location.


In 1966 the first really sophisticated earth observation satellite, called the Earth Resources Observation Satellite (EROS) had been announced by the US Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS sent a delegate to Ottawa where he was officially offered the use of the massive antenna in Prince Albert Saskatchewan which was no longer being used for ISIS or Alouette. In exchange for this valuable asset Canada would be allowed to read the downlink from EROS. However, EROS was cancelled due to some political machinations and replaced by NASA's ERTS (later renamed Landsat).

It subsequently took until 1969 before NASA agreed to let Canada "read" data from ERTS. John Macdonald and his team at MDA convinced Morley and other key actors in the government that they could set up a ground station for a tenth of what the US was paying for similar facilities. They didn't get the contract, but they did get to install what they called QuickLook; a system which generated an image from the ERTS data in minutes, while NASA's best efforts took four days to get the full data stream converted. On the strength of this amazing achievement MDA was hired to provide a ground station at Shoe Cove, Newfoundland in time for the next generation of advanced remote sensing.

Two photo's showing all that remains of Canada’s first satellite tracking station, in Shoe Cove, Newfoundland today, and how it looked in the late 1970's. As outlined in the December 16th, 2015 Hidden Newfoundland post, "Satellite Tracking Station in Shoe Cove," the station was one of twelve originally built under an international agreement created by the NASA in the early 1960's. As outlined in the article, "this network of stations were part of the newly formed Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STADAN). Based out of Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland, STADAN was made up a number of sites that were located in places such as Alaska, Great Britain, Australia and Africa. Each site had the capabilities to track and acquire location data from a number of satellites that were orbiting the earth." In 1977 a second facility, was constructed at this location by the CCRS to collect recorded data from three specific satellites; Landsat II, Landsat III, and a National Oceanographic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) monitor satellite. Photo's c/o Hidden Newfoundland.

In February 1971 Morley had finally gained approval to establish a Federal remote sensing group which became known as the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS). This group issued a string of reports including a revolutionary one by Phil Lapp entitled "Observables and Parameters of Remote Sensing." In three dozen pages Lapp spelled out how remote sensing could be efficiently applied to daily life in Canada.

But remote sensing was still primarily a process carried out by aircraft. The Canadian Air Force had willingly offered up several aircraft, including CF-100 fighters and DC-3s, to be used for aerial remote sensing. It was important to test experimental sensors in aircraft before even contemplating the huge expense of sending them into space.

Around this time Kurt Stehling wrote an article in Space/Aeronautics magazine entitled "Spotting Pollution from Space." In his usually adept way Stehling spelled out the problem in plain language:
The answer lies in larger aircraft, capable of flying at higher altitudes, or...in spacecraft complemented by aircraft. For not only would aircraft supplement satellite observations and aid in photo interpretation—always a difficult problem—but they would be used whenever clouds obscured the earth's surface or whenever sudden, highly localized pollution required immediate observation. In addition, they would serve as flying test beds in the development of new and improved spacecraft sensors.
The payload capacity of the planes available to Morley through normal channels was insufficient and so through some hard bargaining CCRS purchased a Convair 580. This purchase then opened the door to some cross-border cooperation.


The technique which was about to change everything was synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and if deployed on-board a satellite it promised to completely revolutionize the art of map-making and resource prospecting. It would overcome all of the issues with simple microwave radar in space which Stehling had outlined years earlier. Most importantly it would allow the government to understand the true geophysical and geopolitical nature of the under-populated and vast country named Canada. A company in Michigan which had been involved in early development of the technology owned an SAR system but they didn't have an aircraft large enough to use it. They made a deal with the CCRS to share their resources.

By this time Stehling had moved over to the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He had now fully refined his original idea from 1953 and through his role advising Vice President Hubert Humphrey he had proposed putting SAR on a science satellite and using it to map the world's oceans and coastlines. If this could be accomplished the whole problem of using only aircraft to monitor Canada's remote coastlines would be solved. This would have repercussions across all aspects of Canadian aerospace including the huge problem of which aircraft the country needed for defence. The first SAR science satellite was to be called Seasat and it would carry all of the instruments Stehling had proposed in 1968.

Meanwhile, since the early moon landings had been so successful, it was time to do some science aboard more sophisticated versions of Apollo, and that meant not wasting a single opportunity. The same kind of data that Phil Lapp had been seeking 20 years earlier while flying over northern Ontario was now going to be gathered from lunar orbit.

 The Lunar Mapping and Panoramic Cameras were mounted in the forward portion of the Apollo Scientific Instrument Module (SIM) in bay 1 of the Service Module on Apollo 'J' missions on Apollo 15 to 17. Graphic c/o Apollo Flight Journal

The so-called "J" Missions would include an experiments payload bay in the Apollo Service Module.

At the very base of this bay two STEM were installed; one to carry a Gamma-Ray Spectrometer and the other for a Mass Spectrometer. Each would be extended more than 20 feet out into space and the data they would record would be synchronized with a panoramic camera, a mapping camera and a laser altimeter. The resulting data would forever alter our understanding of the moon.

In 1971, while the first J Mission was flying over the lunar surface, MDA was given its first contract to install electronics at the space ground station in Prince Albert Saskatchewan. The Prince Albert Facility had originally been set up in 1959 as a joint project of the United States and Canada. The 84 foot diameter radar dish had been installed because it was believed that the aurora could mask the approach of incoming warheads. It was also believed that the aurora could interfere with communications with any ABM system.

The location of the $10Mln CDN facility about 15km west of Prince Albert had been a boon for the district, which perhaps not entirely coincidentally happened to be the home riding of then Prime Minister Diefenbaker.

When MDA were invited to install their first system it was to coincide with the data coming down from the first ERTS (Landsat) satellite. Prince Albert had evolved from an experimental ABM facility to a satellite down-link, and was now to become an integral part of Canada's resource monitoring.
Robert Godwin.
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Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books, the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum and an American Astronautical Society History Committee Member.
He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series "The NASA Mission Reports" and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music.  
His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called "2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey" about the history of spaceflight at the movies.
Last Week, "Stehling, Maynard, the Lunar Excursion Module, Gerald Bull, James Chamberlin & Phil Lapp,'" in part eight of "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History."

Next Week, "MDA's Rise, Spar's Fall, STEM Antenna's, the Space Shuttle, the Canadarm, 
COMDEV & Optech," as part ten of "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History" continues.

On sale now, at Apogee Books.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Space Advisory Board Meets Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

          By Brian Orlotti

The notes from the first and the second Canadian Space Advisory Board (SAB) Roundtables on Canada's Future in Space, held on April 21st in Ottawa and April 28th in Halifax, have now been posted online.

A friendly reminder that rocket science very rarely has anything to do with politics (or media production). Image c/o @Cmdr_Hadfield.

At first blush, the SAB, rather than seizing the opportunity to restructure Canada’s space efforts in accord with new global realities, has simply opted for the status quo with some added drum-banging for further funding.

Notable excerpts from the SAB notes include a variety of interesting, but generally vague comments, which certainly benefit from the appropriate unpacking. For example:
In an era of fast technological advances and dynamic business models, there is no one size fits all solution.
There is a new business model emerging – often referred to as New Space – that is transformative and government policies and regulations need to adapt to this reality in order to support growth in the sector. 
It may be important to ensure that the Government is equipped to find solutions and has more modern tools (public private partnerships, purchasing services as opposed to assets)
  • This comment, from the April 21st Ottawa meeting, while acknowledging the existence of the NewSpace industry, provides little in the way of exploration of the private-sector funding mechanisms such as the Space Angels Network or Globalive Capital which could enable the Canadian space industry to operate more independently of government.
Globalive Capital, a tech angel investment firm founded in 2013 by Canadian telecom entrepreneur Tony Lacavera, has helped finance at least two Canadian NewSpace companies; Toronto, ON based Kepler Communications and Vancouver, BC based UrtheCast.  
Tony Lacavera at the MaRS Discovery District in January 2017. As outlined in the February 3rd, 2017 Mobile Syrop post, "Tony Lacavera shares the story of building and selling Wind Mobile," the core concept of entrepreneurship is the understanding and acceptance of risk. Photo c/o Mobile Syrup.  
As stated previously in the January 16th, 2017 post, "Quantum Computing Is Real; A Canadian Company Now Offers Open-Source Tools & the Chinese are Building Spacecraft," Lacavera has publicly stated his view that Canada has the potential to become a world leader in such fields as artificial intelligence, fintech, machine-learning, autonomous vehicles, and quantum computing, though its institutions must step up their efforts to do so.  
Lacavera also said that Canada’s efforts must go beyond mere presentations and broad allocations of resources; Canada must narrow its actions and focus  specifically on areas where it can win. 
A focus on developing homegrown launch vehicles, for example, would reduce the time-to-market for Canadian space products and services, protect Canada’s space industry from other nations’ punitive trade actions, and place Canada on a more competitive footing vis-a-vis emerging space powers such as China and India.
Canada is viewed as a reliable international partner; re-affirming or affirming international engagement is important for continued long term success. In addition, while collaborating with traditional international partners (NASA, ESA) remains important, there may be greater opportunities with non-traditional and new space faring nations. 
  • This comment, also from the April 21st Ottawa meeting, allows the SAB to reaffirm Canada’s traditional role as a supplier of components and systems for other nations’ space projects. 
Although the rise of new space-faring nations (i.e. China & India) is acknowledged, the SAB avoids mentioning their specific homegrown capabilities, which include domestic launch vehicles. Those indigenous capabilities (rather than the mere ability to manufacture "components") are what facilitate the independent actions these states currently enjoy.
This lack of interest in expanding Canadian space capability also seems rather myopic in light of the current political upheavals in Europe, rapidly expanding Chinese space efforts and trade-related punitive actions taken (and threatened) against both Canada and Mexico by the US’ ultra-nationalist, protectionist Donald Trump administration. 
Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) Executive VP Iain Christie discussing the AIAC's perception of what a "balanced" space program would be like at the 2016 Space Policy Symposium, which was held in Ottawa on November 8th, 2016. As outlined in the November 22nd, 2016 SpaceQ post, "A Balanced Space Program from the 2016 Space Policy Symposium," the AIAC presentation focused on complaints about the lack of "a long term plan or vision for what Canada will be doing in space," plus concern for space companies "that rely in-part on government programs" and are “rapidly running out of short term money with no new significant programs being created." Evidently, asking for more money for the existing players is "balanced." Photo c/o SpaceQ.
There is the need for a balanced space program and for a range of activities – flagship programs (e.g. International Space Station), smaller mission activities, science, technology development and capability demonstration - necessary to provide critical flight heritage while sustaining and maintain talent/capabilities in the Canadian space sector. 
Dedicated funding to support new space activities help to grow the sector – many space firms have been created, or established through government programs, which provide important seed money...
This statement, also from the April 21st Ottawa meeting, and apart from the dubiousness of phrases like ‘balanced space program’ (which seems to suggest a hope for continued Canadian Space Agency "dominance" of the domestic space industry and the expectation of the existing players that they will continue to be funded), contains a curious error of omission 
The oversight is NASA’s stated intention to sell the ISS to the private sector by the mid-2020’s. 
As outlined in the March 23rd, 2017 Wired post, " Somebody Just Buy the ISS Already," the International Space Station (ISS) is a $70Bln US ($95Bln CDN) engineering marvel that "no one has any idea what to do with." According to the article, "spending $3 billion to $4 billion annually to keep the ISS running conflicts with NASA’s other ambitions, like visiting Mars."
Touting the ISS as a “flagship program” in which Canada should continue the status quo when NASA itself is willing to let private industry take control and move on to other challenges would seem a non sequitur at best and deceitful at worst.
There is considerable optimism and excitement regarding plans for a spaceport in the Province of Nova Scotia. 
Developing Canadian launch capabilities may provide new opportunities for economic and regional development (e.g. , jobs creation, skills and talent hub); increased access to space to deploy technologies in space; and public interest and support for the Canadian space program.
This statement, from the April 28th, 2017 Halifax meeting, refers to Maritime Launch Services’ (MLS) thus far unfunded effort to construct a commercial launch facility for Ukrainian-built Cyclone-4M rockets in Nova Scotia. MLS is essentially acting as a local agent for Ukraine-based Yuzhnoye Design Office, which had originally designed the Cyclone-4M rocket for Brazil and requires at least $100Mln CDN in cash or credits to fund any NS based facility.  
As outlined most recently in the February 6th, 2017 post, "Europe Will Fund the Prometheus Reusable Engine; Canada Pitched Cyclone-4's," the Cyclone rockets use hypergolic engines--a system in which two components (a fuel and an oxidizer) spontaneously ignite when brought into contact with each other, producing thrust. 
Once used extensively in both US and Soviet ICBMs, hypergolic engines were eventually replaced in both nations’ arsenals by solid-fuel systems. Although simple and reliable, hypergolic engines pose difficulties due to the extreme toxicity and corrosive nature of their fuels. 
Because of this, Western rocketry has largely moved away from hypergolic systems and towards higher performance liquid hydrogen/oxygen engines. 
It is a sad state of affairs indeed for Canada’s space efforts when, in an age of $5Mln US ($6.8Mln CDN) 3D-printed rockets (such as those now being made by California based Rocket Lab), hope is being placed in a company of doubtful financing flogging toxic 1970’s Soviet technology. 
Canada, the third nation on Earth to place a satellite in orbit and a pioneer of robotic, radar and lidar technologies, should demand better of itself

The first SAB Roundtable on Canada's Future in Space, held on April 21st in Ottawa, was hosted by SAB chair Marie Lucy Stojak, William MacDonald ‘Mac' Evans, and Michael Pley.

Attendees included Al Conrad (IMP Aerospace), Arthur Ruff (ISRU Tech Inc.), Sarah Goldfeder (Earnscliffe Strategy Group), Chris Kitzan (Canada Aviation and Space Museum), Christopher Dodd (Airbus Defence & Space Canada, Inc.), Daniel Goldberg (Telesat), David McCabe (Honeywell Aerospace), Eric Choi (Magellan Aerospace), Eva-Jane Lark (BMO Nesbitt Burns Midland Doherty Ltd.), Geoffrey Languedoc (Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute), Iain Christie (AIAC), Ian Scott (Telesat), Jason Palidwar (Iridian Spectral Technologies), Jim Quick (AIAC), John Detombe (ADGA Group), Larisa Beach (Neptec Design Group Ltd.), Leslie Swartman (MacDonald Dettwiler), Lori M. Wickert (Newmont Mining Corporation), Matt Ivis (MacDonald Dettwiler), Rick Pitre (Terizons Consulting Inc.), Robert A. “Bob” Ryerson (Kim Geomatics Corporation), Ryan Alan Anderson (QShift) and Stewart Bain (NorStar Space Data).

The second SAB Roundtable on Canada's Future in Space, held on April 28th in Halifax, was hosted by Jim Drummond and Gordon Osinski.

Attendees included Bradley Farquhar (Space Generation Advisory Council), Carl Kumpic (IMP Aerospace and Defence), Desmond Power (C-CORE), Duncan McSporran (Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada), Harvey Doane (Nova Scotia Business Inc.), Howard Moyst (AIME Consulting Inc.), Jeff Burlock (Xplornet Communication Inc.), Luigi Gallo (St. Mary's University, Department of Astronomy and Physics), Monique Arsenault (Nova Scotia Government), Penny Morrill (Memorial University of Newfoundland, Faculty of Sciences—Earth Sciences), Rich Billiard (Atlantic Alliance of Aerospace and Defense Associations), Rob Thacker (St. Mary's University, Department of Astronomy and Physics) and Stephen Matier (Maritime Launch Services).

The SAB Roundtable is winding up its formal, semi-public meetings over the next few days, but will continue to meet at undisclosed locations and by invitation only, in preparation for the expected release of their proposal for the Canadian space industry sometime this summer.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...
Brian Orlotti.
  ______________________________________________________________

Brian Orlotti is a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

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