Friday, December 15, 2017

Peruvian Government Reports Investment in Airbus' PerúSAT-1 Recovered Within First Year

          By Chuck Black

Toulouse, France based Airbus SE has a successful commercial story to tell about one of its newest satellites, the PerúSAT-1, a high resolution earth observing satellite built for the Peru National Space Agency (CONIDA), an organization attached to the Peruvian Ministry of Defense.

Expect the Airbus Canadian subsidiary to reference the story every chance it gets as it seeks to win new domestic satellite and space contracts.

PerúSat 1 is an high resolution earth observing satellite  ordered by the Peruvian Space Agency in April 2014 and launched as a secondary payload on an Arianespace Vega launch vehicle in 2016. As outlined on Gunter's space page, "the satellite is designed based on Airbus Defence and Space's AstroBus-S (AstroBus-300) bus and features an imaging system from the NAOMI (New Astrosat Observation Modular Instrument) family to provide 0.7 m resolution panchromatic images and 2 m resolution images in four wavelengtt bands." Graphic c/o Airbus.

As outlined in the December 14th, 2017 SatNews Daily post, "Peruvian Government Reports Investment in Airbus' PerúSAT-1 Already Recovered ... In First Year," the Peruvian government has already declared PerúSAT-1 a great success.

According to the article, "PerúSAT-1 has completed its first year of operation and the Peruvian government has recently declared that in that time, the investment it has made into the satellite program has already been recouped."

CONIDA and the Peruvian military have been using PerúSAT-1 for a variety of activities including:
  • The detection of public works irregularities for the Peruvian General Attorney's office.
  • Drug trafficking intelligence and property identification for Peru's national police.
  • The evaluation and analysis of landslides in the Vitorbasin for the Vitor District Municipality.
  • Map generation to track deforestation in the San Martín Region.
  • The generation of a new national cartography map for the National Geographical Institute (IGN) at a lower cost than could be done using traditional methods.
  • Landslide and volcano monitoring for the Geology, Mining and Metallurgic Institute (INGEMMET).
  • Update and  elaboration of satellite imagery, aerial reconnaissance and field data for post disaster evaluation in Lima and Callao after earthquakes for the United Nation’s Development Programme (UNPD) and the National Institute for Civil Defence (INDECI).
  • Strategic support and generation of a spectral signature data base for "precision agriculture" initiatives at the San Marcos Mayor National University (UNMSM).

Since the October 2016 signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU) intended to eliminate 98% of the tariffs between the two, Airbus has been ramping up its efforts to sell satellite and military technology to Canadian customers in both the government and the private sector.

As outlined in the January  7th, 2017 Esprit de Corps post, "Eyes in the North: Airbus Canada aims to Deliver Cutting-Edge Space Systems," satellites and space systems, "make major contributions to the effectiveness of Canada’s maritime surveillance, search and rescue, and Arctic sovereignty capabilities."
    Chuck Black.

    Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

    Thursday, December 14, 2017

    FCC Begins Regulatory Approval Process for Orbital ATK Satellite Servicing Mission to Intelsat-901

              By Henry Stewart

    The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has signed-off on at least part of the paperwork required to approve Dulles, VA based Orbital ATK’s proposed upcoming satellite servicing mission to rendezvous and dock with the Intelsat 901 (IS 901) communication satellite.

    Orbital ATK CEO David W. Thompson and Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler announce their satellite servicing agreement at the 32nd Space Symposium, which which was held from April 11th - 14th, 2016 in Colorado Springs, CO. As outlined in the April 12th, 2016 Space News post, "Orbital ATK signs Intelsat as first satellite servicing customer," the two companies scheduled their first launch in 2018 and so far at least, seem to moving forward according to plan. According to the post, "MEV-1 will first dock with a retired satellite in a graveyard orbit above stationary orbit to test its systems, then dock with an active Intelsat satellite to extend its life for five years." Photo c/o Chuck Bigger.

    The IS 901 was the first of nine new Intelsat satellites launched in June 2001. It currently provides Ku-band spot beam coverage for Europe, as well as C-band coverage for the Atlantic Ocean region and is reaching the end of its operational life, but could potentially be refueled for several more years of service. The satellite is operated by US and Luxembourg based Intelsat.

    As outlined in the December 12th, 2017 Space News post, "FCC begins approval of Orbital ATK satellite-servicing mission for Intelsat-901," the proposed mission is intended to test out the new Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1), a satellite servicing vehicle operated by Orbital ATK subsidiary Space Logistics Services, which was set up specifically to deal with Orbital ATK’s satellite-servicing business.

    However, components of the mission are still to be decided. According to the post:
    The commission has, for now, withheld permission on a request from Space Logistics LLC, the subsidiary handling Orbital ATK’s satellite-servicing business, for relocating Intelsat-901 alongside another Intelsat satellite. 
    The agency also deferred on a request to undock MEV-1 from Intelsat-901 at the end of that mission and to return MEV-1 to a graveyard orbit to await its next assignment.
    The FCC licence is only one of the steps required to gain government approval for the mission, According to the article:
    Satellite servicing is a relatively new area for regulators, consequently requiring a lot of trailblazing by Orbital ATK. (Joe) Anderson, (the VP of business development and operations for Space Logistics) said the company has been in a dialogue with the FCC, the U.S. State Department and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for several years, and those discussions concluded that the FCC would be the licensing body for launch, deployment, docking and TT&C.
    Several other hurdles remain to be jumped in order to obtain the necessary regulatory approval, but all sides are optimistic that a solution can be found before the planned launch of the MEV-1 in late 2018.

    As outlined most recently in the July 17, 2017 post, "Orbital ATK, DARPA, MacDonald Dettwiler, DigitalGlobe & Unleashing the Lobbyists," Orbital ATK isn't the only private firm developing the capability to service satellites in orbit.

    In fact, Orbital ATK spent a surprising amount of the last year in pitched battle with then Richmond, BC based Macdonald Dettwiler (MDA), its US MDA subsidiary Space Systems Loral (SSL) and then Westminster, CO based Digitalglobe to prevent the US government from providing a variety of subsidies to it's competitors, in the form of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) grants and NASA Restore-L contracts, in order to build much the same sort of satellite servicing technology.

    Orbital ATK argued that the US government provided an unfair advantage to MDA/SSL/Digitalglobe by providing the DARPA/NASA funding when the private sector was already competing in the area. US courts rejected that argument.

    But while both MDA and Digitalglobe are now operating under the banner of San Francisco, CA based Maxar Technologies, the partnerships and DARPA/NASA funding remain intact.

    Orbital ATK perseveres with its program, at least for now. It will be interesting to see which company manages to eventually pull ahead in this marathon.

    Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

    Monday, December 11, 2017

    Dreaming Big: US President Trump Signs Directive to Send Americans Back to the Moon, Probably!

              By Henry Stewart

    US president Donald Trump has signed a directive, instructing NASA to return Americans to the Moon, with the intent to one day send them to Mars.

    Canada is hoping to tag along for the ride.

    The US president signed the order during a ceremony in the Oval Office on December 11th, 2017, while surrounded by members of the recently re-established National Space Council (NSC), along with active NASA astronauts Christina Hammock Koch and Peggy Whitson, retired Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and retired astronaut Jack Schmitt, who flew to the moon as part of the Apollo 17 mission.

    As outlined in the December 11th, 2017 post, "President Trump Directs NASA to Return to the Moon, Then Aim for Mars," the signed space policy directive makes official a recommendation approved by the NSC in October, 2017.

    The recommendation called for NASA to return American astronauts to the moon and build the foundation needed to send Americans to Mars and beyond.

    The unstated assumption is that, as outlined in the December 1st, 2017 post, "Deep Space Gateway 'Key Part of Exploration Roadmap'," the architecture which will be used to return Americans to the Moon will begin with the proposed Deep Space Gateway (DSG), a crew-tended cislunar space station concept proposed for possible partnership between NASA, Roscosmos and other current International Space Station (ISS) partners for construction after the ISS is retired in the 2020s.

    At least that's what Canada is hoping.

    That's why, as outlined in the October 26th, 2017 post, "A Quick Overview of the Next Few Expected Federal Announcements Concerning the Canadian Space Industry," our Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has climbed aboard the DSG bandwagon.

    As for the funding, according to the December 11th, 2017 Reuters post, "Trump wants to send US astronauts back to moon, someday Mars," NASA has indicated that initial funding for the new policy would be included in its budget request for fiscal year 2019.

    Of course, American presidents have had a poor track record in recent years when it comes to defining space policy. As outlined in the December 11th, 2017 Time Magazine post, "Trump Wants to Send Astronauts Back to the Moon. Will That Really Happen?," the current plans reverse President Barack Obama’s space policy, which called "for NASA to capture a small asteroid, move it to the vicinity of the moon and send astronauts out to explore it."

    According to the post:
    Obama’s oddball plan, in turn, reversed President George W. Bush’s plan, which was a lot closer to Trump’s. And Bush’s at least altered President Bill Clinton’s, which was focused almost entirely on the space shuttle and the International Space Station, with little thought of the moon at all. 
    Before Clinton, the first President Bush briefly flirted with Mars, but only until analysts ball-parked the cost of the mission at half a trillion dollars. 
    By contrast, the Apollo program’s principal objective — to get American astronauts onto the moon and to do it before 1970 – was a shared vision of four presidents, from Eisenhower through Nixon.
    But will the latest US president have any greater success than his recent predecessors? Maybe not.

    As outlined in the November 30th, 2017 Space News op-ed, "A house divided, or in this case, a rocket," the DSG was once a part of the cancelled US Constellation program (CxP), and keeps popping up every few years as a legitimate answer to the question of what to do with all the NASA scientists and engineers involved with the ISS after that program is shut down sometime in the 2020s.

    According to the plan, you can transfer the ISS scientists and engineers to another space station, the DSG, which will use most of the same tools developed for the ISS. That's why Canada is on-board with the program. We get to re-use all the Canadarm technology originally developed for the ISS.

    In essence, the real story here might be the continuing concern NASA and space scientists have over their ongoing job security and the hoops politicians are willing to jump through in order to retain the support of those scientists and engineers.

    This might not be a problem president's or prime ministers can solve by returning to the Moon or going to Mars. But as long as everyone pretends, the jobs continue and the political base remains secure.

    Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

    Molten Salt Reactors Catching On

              By Brian Orlotti

    Oakville, ON based Terrestrial Energy has announced that it’s integral molten salt reactor (IMSR) design had passed the first phase of a pre-licensing vendor design review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

    As outlined in the November 8th, 2017 Terrestrial Energy press release, "Terrestrial Energy IMSR First Commercial Advanced Reactor Assessed by Regulator," IMSR technology appears to be gaining traction in other nations for both civilian and military purposes.

    In January 2015, Terrestrial Energy announced a collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to commercialize its IMSR design and secured $10Mln CDN in funding. With Phase One of the CNSC design review proces complete, the company will enter Phase Two. Requiring further design detail, phase Two will take 18 months to 2 years to complete. Terrestrial Energy anticipates completing Phase Two in 2019, then obtaining a customer and beginning the reactor’s construction in the 2020s.

    IMSRs promise nuclear power that is far cheaper and greener than traditional methods. IMSRs differ from traditional fission-based nuclear reactors in that they use fuel (in this case, denatured uranium) which has been dissolved in a molten liquid salt. Because the reactor’s fuel is in liquid form, it functions as both fuel and coolant, transporting heat away from the reactor as it circulates. Thus, an IMSR cannot go into meltdown because a loss of coolant (the traditional cause of meltdowns) would also mean a loss of the fuel needed to drive the reactor.

    IMSRs would still produce radioactive waste, but at far lower volumes (kilograms versus tonnes) and far shorter time spans (200-300 years versus millennia) when compared to traditional reactors.

    Molten salt reactors are not new technology. Terrestrial Energy's design builds upon research done in the 1960’s in the US at ORNL. In addition, the Convair NB-36H "Crusader" aircraft, created under the US’ Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program (ANP), flew a series of test flights from 1955-57 with a functioning salt-water reactor on board to ascertain whether a nuclear reactor could be used to power an aircraft.

    From 1961 to 1965, the Soviet Union performed a series of test flights of a Tupolev-95LAL bomber, using conventional engines and fuel, but also carrying a Soviet-designed molten salt water reactor.

    Both the US and USSR’s programs were cancelled due to the rise of ballistic missile technology.

    As outlined in the December 6th, 2017 Next Big Future post, "Thorcon floating supertanker molten salt reactors starting with 2021 prototype," a US-based startup called Thorcon Power is developing a molten salt reactor based off of ORNL designs for use on oil supertankers.

    Currently under development in the US, Thorcon intends to build the reactor in a yet-to-be-determined Asian shipyard, then float it to Indonesia, where testing will begin in 2021. Thorcon’s team includes several former ORNL engineers.

    The US and China are also eyeing molten salt water reactor tech for use in warships and drones in order to greatly increase their endurance and capabilities.

    As outlined in a 2012 Sandia National Labs paper under the title, "Project Accomplishments Summary, Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (#1714) between Sandia National Labs and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation," from 2008-2011, Albuquerque, NM based Sandia National Labs and West Falls Church, VA based Northrop Grumman collaborated to design nuclear-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) able to stay aloft for many months.

    According to the December 5th, 2017 South China Morning Post, "China hopes cold war nuclear energy tech will power warships, drones," China will spend $3.3Bln USD ($4.4Bln CDN) to develop two molten salt reactors in the Gobi Desert in northern China by 2020. Aside from civilian energy production, China considers molten salt ideal for powering UAVs as well as warships in its steadily expanding navy.

    In addition, molten salt reactors could be fueled by thorium, a material China has in abundance. Using thorium as a fuel would enable higher power generation efficiency, enabling aircraft carriers and submarines with greater speed and range than uranium-powered ones.

    As ever, nuclear technology remains a double-edged sword, enabling new human capabilities for both war and peace. Let us hope such capabilities are used wisely.
    Brian Orlotti.

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

    Friday, December 08, 2017

    Long Awaited DND Polar Sats Postponed. Will be Cancelled/ Replaced/ Renamed After Next Election (Like Last Time)

              By Chuck Black

    Back in October 2017, this blog predicted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would need to make some sort of official announcement before the next Federal budget in March 2018 on the status of the enhanced satellite communication project (ESCP), a long running, expensive, but mostly unfunded proposal to build a two node constellation of modified Molniya orbiting Department of National Defence (DND) satellites "to fill the requirement of the new Canadian defense policy for all-Arctic (communications) coverage."

    "Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" As outlined in the May 26th, 2016 DND website, "Enhanced Satellite Communication Project," the Liberal government initially postulated final delivery of the two ESCP satellites in 2024 which even then, was kinda amusing. That date has since been superseded by a revised "No later than 2029" final delivery date. Why were the dates so laughable? The ESCP was a follow-on the cancelled Polar Communications and Weather (PCW) constellation which, as outlined in the July 17th, 2016 post, "The Polar Communications & Weather Satellite (PCW) Mission is Dead; To Revive it, our Military Wants More Money," had been kicking around for a decade and had grown from a useful $600Mln CDN proposal into a far larger $4.5Bln CDN potential boondoggle before being cancelled. The previous PCW advocates were initially promised a "final delivery" in 2016. As Rocky the Flying Squirrel would say, "Hokey Smokes!" Graphic c/o Gov't of Canada.

    And, as outlined in the October 26th, 2017 post, "A Quick Overview of the Next Few Expected Federal Announcements Concerning the Canadian Space Industry," this blog also suggested that the DND proposal might be at risk of being cancelled or superseded in favor of a purchase of services from one of the numerous (and less expensive) commercial-off-the-shelf low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications constellations currently being assessed by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

    Ottawa, ON based Telesat Canada, with it's proposed 290 satellite LEO communications constellation expected to become operational in 2021, was even mentioned as actively lobbying DND to become the "anchor tenant" for its satellite constellation.

    But this week, DND released the long anticipated "Request for Information for the Enhanced Satellite Communication Project - Polar (ESPC-P)."

    As outlined in the December 4th, 2017 letter of interest LOI/ request for information (RFI) under the title "Enhanced SATCOM Project - Polar (W6369-180123/A)," any real work on the program, now known as ESPC-Polar (or ESPC-P for short) has been pushed out well past the next election.

    A contract award for ESCP-P is expected "no later than 2024" according to the LOI/RFI. By the time the satellites are launched and operational, it could be 2029.

    This places any contract award well past the 2019 estimated date for the next Federal election and also past the 2020 - 2022 date for the roll-out of many of the FCC proposed civilian LEO com-sat constellations, such as the one proposed by Telesat.

    ESPC proposed procurement schedule according to December 4th, 2017 Buyand Sell procurement documentation on the ESCP-P program. Graphic c/o Gov't of Canada.

    And here's where it gets silly. After years and years of serious study, the Federal government insists that it still doesn't really know how the satellites should be configured or what they should be doing.

    To lesson the confusion, the DND will engage "in a consultative process" as its first step toward actually buying something. According to the LOI/RFI:
    In consideration of industry's insights and other operational imperatives, a Request for Information (RFI) is being used to initiate engagement with industry to help further define the requirements for a more comprehensive solution as well as to understand current market capacity and interest in preparation of a subsequent RFP (Request for Proposal).
    That first phase is scheduled to take at least another year. Key objectives include:
    • Informing "Industry" of the DND ESCP-P requirements.
    • Obtaining industry input "on the feasibility, deficiencies and proposed improvements with respect to potential options to meet the requirement needs."
    • "Align this requirement" with the industry capabilities "as applicable," whatever that means.
    • Seek industry input on "potential economic leveraging opportunities."
    • Obtain rough order of magnitude (ROM) costing estimates.
    Given that the idea of two satellites in eccentric orbits able to cover the Canadian north to provide a variety of useful applications has been kicking around Ottawa, DND and the Canadian Space Agency since at least 2008, when the idea was known as the polar communications and weather (PCW) constellation, it seems obvious that most of the answers to the above listed questions are already available.

    It should be noted that even Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (shown here, walking past an honour guard at US Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where he attended a meeting of defense ministers on July 2nd, 2017) concedes that the Canadian military is underfunded. As outlined in the October 26th, 2017 Global News post, "Liberal government’s defence plan threatened by shortage of procurement staff," Senior officials at the Defence Department believe that "they will be challenged to make good on the Trudeau government’s promise to buy billions of dollars in new military equipment in the coming years." Photo c/o Saul Loeb/ AFP/Getty.

    Therefore, it cannot help but be noted that the ESCP-P program seems to have been intentionally delayed by the government. This is likely a cost cutting measure, although government representatives at one point also suggested that there simply isn't enough Federal procurement staff available to facilitate the process and fill out the necessary paperwork.

    Yeah, right...

    Whatever the real reason for the delay, current estimates to complete the ESCP-P program start far north of the estimated $1.5Bln CDN the Federal government is willing to concede.

    All of which is bad news for the Canadian and international space companies who've been waiting years for this project.

    They'll be forced to pretend that everything remains on-track for an eventual purchase, even as they (and their supply chains) slowly twist in the wind. 

    Another reminder that cost might indeed be a constraint on the ESCP-P program (then called simply ESCP). As outlined in the March 14th, 2017 Ottawa Citizen post, "Canada talking to U.S., Norway and Denmark about footing bill for new Arctic military satellite," the contract was then expected to be "awarded in 2020 for the Enhanced Satellite Communication Project. The spacecraft would be launched around 2024." Graphic c/o Ottawa Citizen.

    Perhaps ESCP-P will be revisited should the consultation process develop the political consensus needed to move forward or money becomes available. Perhaps the program will merge into a commercial proposal and/or become part of the upcoming Telesat constellation.

    Perhaps the government will hire more procurement officers to deal with the backlog and/or continue to deal with Arctic military communication requirements the same way it always has, with a little help from the Americans.

    Or perhaps ESCP-P will just fade away, to be revived by the next government as a new proposal under a new name. Like last time.
      Chuck Black.

      Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

      Monday, December 04, 2017

      The Latest CDN Space Sector Report Notes 5 Year Slump (Except for BC) & Industry Dominates, Not Academia or Gov't

                By Chuck Black

      It passed virtually unnoticed when it was first released in September 2017. But the 2015 State of the Canadian Space Sector Report, the latest in a series of annual Canadian Space Agency (CSA) assessments of our domestic space industry, is well worth revisiting to prepare for any new announcements the current Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might make between now and when the next Federal budget is released in March 2018.

      The front cover of the 2015 State of the Canadian Space Sector Report and it's core finding. In essence, our domestic space industry has been in a state of stagnation for the last five years with growth at a "relatively flat" 0.4% annually. Graphics c/o CSA

      As outlined in the executive summary, "In 2015, total revenues in the Canadian space sector totalled $5.3Bln CDN, representing a slight decrease overall of 1.6%, or $85Mln CDN, year-over-year. The average annual growth rate of the space sector over the last five years (2010–2015) is relatively flat at 0.4%."

      Essentially, this means that the Canadian space sector spent the period between 2010 - 2015 in a five year slump.

      But the Canadian revenues are in line with international markets. As outlined in the July 2016 Edition of the Space Report, published annually by the Denver CO based Space Foundation:
      The global space industry grew in 2015, although currency fluctuations caused the appearance of a decline from $329Bln US ($418Bln CDN) in 2014 to $323Bln US ($410Bln CDN) in 2015. 
      Due to the strong US dollar and the ever-increasing levels of activity outside the United States, these fluctuations have a more noticeable impact than would have been the case in previous decades when the US share of the commercial space industry was larger.
      If nothing else, the west coast seems to have weathered the slump far better than the rest of the country. Although revenue dipped 9% in 2015, "between 2010 and 2015, BC’s total revenues increased by 59%, from $177Mln CDN to $281Mln CDN. This growth has been driven by domestic revenue sources, which have increased from $81Mln CDN to $174Mln CDN, while export revenues increased slightly from $95Mln CDN to $106Mln CDN, over the same period." Richmond, BC based MacDonald Dettwiler (now San Francisco, CA based Maxar Technologies) was the largest Canadian space company in BC during this period. Graphic c/o CSA

      In a surprise finding, the report concluded that university and research centre revenues amounted to only $125Mln CDN in 2015, or only 2.4% of the total revenue measured, although six universities were included in the list of Canada’s top 30 space organizations.

      According to the report:
      Academic organizations contribute 20% of the total space sector workforce with 1,997 full-time equivalents, of which 55% are highly qualified personnel (HQP) such as engineers, scientists and technicians. 
      An additional 40% of the university and research centre workforce is comprised of students, mostly at the graduate level, who are in receipt of wages or a stipend from their university for work as research assistants, teaching assistants, or other employee-type situations. 
      The general consensus until now has been that Canadian academics (with funding from government through the CSA, the National Research Council and from a few of the bigger space companies) essentially drive the space industry.

      Now that this longstanding perception has been disproved, it will be interesting to see if the new knowledge ends up making any real difference.

      Revenue growth and proportion by activity sector during the period 2010 - 2015. It's worth noting that, while satellite communication is the largest sector by revenue ($4.5Bln CDN for 2015), the Earth observation (EO) market segment is the fastest growing. As outlined in the report, "Over the past five years, EO revenues have increased by 65%, from $256M in 2010 to $423M in 2015, growing on average 11% annually." Graphic c/o CSA.

      As well, the total Canadian space workforce (excluding government workers) "totaled 9,927 space-related full-time equivalents (FTEs) in 2015. This represents a very slight decrease (less than 1% change) from the figure reported last year, 10,012 FTEs."

      According to the report:
      In 2015, engineers and scientists comprised the largest category of employment with 2,953 FTEs, representing 30% of the total space workforce. 
      Employees in the administration category made up the second largest group with 2,911 FTEs and 29% of the total workforce. 
      Technicians came third with 1,311 FTEs and 13% of the total workforce. 
      Management, marketing and sales, and other employees made up the remainder. 
      A chart showing Canadian space industry revenue growth from 2007 - 2011 with a slump in growth after 2011. Graphic c/o CSA

      It's also useful to note the amount of private sector money going into research and development. As outlined in the report:
      In 2015, there were 67 companies engaged in R&D activities. Total spending was $256Mln CDN, a significant increase over R&D spending reported in 2014 ($146Mln CDN). Upstream organizations were more R&D intensive, spending 55% of total space sector BERD (business enterprise research and development).
      R&D spending was financed through internal sources (e.g. company profits reinvested in R&D) or through external funding sources (e.g. government grants and contributions). 
      Internally company-funded R&D represented the larger portion of spending at $139M or 54% of BERD in 2015. Externally funded R&D represented 46%, or $117M, of BERD in 2015.
      The $256Mln CDN spent by corporations in 2015 was twice the $125Mln CDN revenue spent at University and research centre. According to the report:
      Universities and research centres received $115.6Mln CDN in domestic funds, mostly from government: $91.6Mln CDN from the federal government and $14.7Mln CDN from provincial governments. The remainder came from private foundations or companies (or foreign sources of funding).

      Domestic vs export revenue for the Canadian space industry in 2015. Graphic c/o CSA.

      Taken together the data collected in the report suggests a space industry driven by industry, not academia or government.

      To be fair to the other two, it so far looks like industry hasn't yet made it clear where it wants to go and maybe each individual business just wants the ability to go its own way.

      However, and as outlined in the February 15th, 2010 post, "Ottawa Citizen: 'Where did that Long Term Space Plan Go?'," this blog once suggested that, "if Canada does not define a long term space plan, private business and academia will soon go about creating their own."

      That day has arrived. Welcome to the future.
        Chuck Black.

        Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

        Colorado School of Mines Will Offer a Graduate Program in Space Mining in 2018

                  By Brian Orlotti

        The Colorado School of Mines (CSM), a renowned science and engineering institution, has announced it will launch a graduate program in Space Resources in 2018. The first of its kind, this interdisciplinary program will train the next generation of scientists and engineers in extracting the natural resources found in space in order to spur space exploration.

        The program comes at a favourable time for space resource extraction, dovetailing with the rise of such firms as Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources.

        As outlined in the November 30th, 2017 Wired post, "Want to Learn How to Mine in Space? There's a School for You," the new program would not only examine the technical aspects of space resource extraction but also its economic, policy and legal aspects. Instructors will be drawn from experts in academia, space agencies and the private sector. The first course, Space Resources Fundamentals, was first offered this fall as a pilot program.

        CSM officials hope to follow it with a space systems engineering course, design project class and seminar series in spring 2018. Further out,  post-baccalaureate certificates, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees will be offered in fall 2018.

        CSM is well suited for such a program, being a recognized centre of research in mining, geomechanics, remote sensing, metallurgy, robotics, advanced manufacturing, electrochemistry, resource economics and solar and nuclear energy.

        The space resources program is centred around the concept of in situ resource utilization (ISRU), the practice of leveraging the resources (water, gases, minerals and metals) found on various astronomical objects (the Moon, Mars, asteroids, etc.) to enable/enhance the capabilities of space missions.

        Examples of ISRU include:
        • Extraction of water from ice or soil in order to produce rocket fuel, drinking water, oxygen for breathable air, irrigation of crops as well as enabling various industrial processes.
        • Utilizing the silicon, aluminum, and glass found in lunar soil to manufacture solar cells, providing energy for spacecraft/surface bases and enabling the construction of solar power satellites.
        • Harnessing the metals found in asteroids to construct buildings, machinery and spacecraft, or (in the case of precious metals like gold & platinum) for export to Earth.
        ISRU, essentially a "live off the land" approach, makes space exploration safer and more affordable by  eliminating the need to bring everything into space from Earth. Long rejected by NASA as too risky, ISRU has been embraced by the Newspace industry and, in recent years, by NASA itself. 

        ISRU offers the promise of establishing an off-world transportation and industrial infrastructure that will enable the expansion of Earth’s economic sphere into the solar system. 

        What railroads were to the 19th century, space-based fuel depots and asteroid mines will be to the 21st.
        Brian Orlotti.

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

        Friday, December 01, 2017

        Deep Space Gateway "Key Part of Exploration Roadmap"

                  By Henry Stewart

        Space News is reporting that the "Deep Space Gateway," a crew-tended cis-lunar space station concept proposed for possible partnership between NASA, Roscosmos and other international space agencies, will serve as the core of an updated Global Exploration Roadmap being drafted by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG).

        Artist representation of proposed DSG, including the solar sail and small next generation Canadarm proposed by the Canadian Space Agency. As outlined in the September 25th, 2017 Planetary Society post, "NASA, international partners consider solar sail for Deep Space Gateway," Canadian specialists believe "a solar sail could play a secondary role in orienting the DSG, saving fuel for traditional rocket thrusters designed to maintain the outpost's position." Graphic c/o Anatoly Zak / RussianSpaceWeb.

        As outlined in the November 30th, 2017 Space News post, "Deep Space Gateway key part of updated exploration roadmap," the ISECG is a forum of international space agencies (including Canada) where members "share non-binding plans and objectives" for international co-operation in space.
        Since NASA’s first flight of its heavy-lift Space Launch System with an Orion capsule is scheduled for as soon as late 2019, it’s time to decide “what we are going to do with these vehicles,” Kathy Laurini, NASA senior adviser for exploration and space operations, said during a Global Exploration Roadmap community workshop at the NASA Ames Research Center Nov. 29. 
        “We’ve been engaged with our international partners on how we’ll use these to explore together.”
        The post acknowledges that basing the entire plan around an unfunded NASA proposal could be problematic without the acknowledged support of the Trump administration. According to the post, "future exploration plans will become clearer when the Trump Administration and Congress weigh in on the agency’s (NASA's) budget."

        The ISECG published its last Global Exploration Roadmap in 2013. ISECG members will use the new roadmap as a sales aid to lobby domestic policymakers for funding to implement the proposed programs.

        The new plan is expected to be released in January 2018.

        As outlined in the October 26th, 2017 post, "A Quick Overview of the Next Few Expected Federal Announcements Concerning the Canadian Space Industry," the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is likely already on board with the Deep Space Gateway and the upcoming ISECG proposal.

        Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

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