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Canadian and European policy updates

In Monday’s issue of The Space Review, the same group of Canadians who published a detailed discussion of Canada’s future in space provide a condensed version. This version has the same theme: despite relatively small budgets compared to the US or Europe, Canada can take advantage of opportunities available now, provided the right goals and vision. This is particularly timely given the present uncertainty about the Canadian government: the Liberals and NDP have proposed a coalition government to oust the current Conservative government. If successful, that could mean, among other things, a greater role for one of the newest Liberal MPs, former astronaut and CSA president Marc Garneau.

Last week at ESA’s ministerial meeting, the space agency got pretty much everything on its wish list, from funding for a new Ariane 5 upper stage engine to a new series of Earth observation satellites under a joint program with the EU, GMES/Kopernikus. And while ministers didn’t fully fund ExoMars, ESA’s ambitious Mars rover mission, they did commit to enough funding that makes it possible to carry out the mission with international participation, either from the US or Russia. However, Taylor Dinerman argues in The Space Review that GMES/Kopernikus in particular gives ESA an uncomfortable dual civil-military role, since the satellites will have applications not just for Earth sciences but also security.

2 comments to Canadian and European policy updates

  • I agree with the authors of the Canadian report when they state “Canada has the resources and skills to perform groundbreaking work as a leader in space, provided that we use our resources creatively and are willing to adopt challenging and visionary goals. We have nearly limitless potential—now is our time to realize it.”

    However, their comments need to be taken in context with the specific suggestions for the future which are begining to percolate up from experts throughout Canada.

    In essense, the authors are requesting action that’s already happening and they are being overtaken by events.

    I again refer to the recent Canadian Space Summit where participants are begining to come forward with specific, concrete suggestions on what they feel should be part of Canadian space policy.

    For examples I refer to the following:

    CSCA’s presentation on why Canada needs its own independent launch capability and how this could be justified on national security, scientific and especially business grounds (for example, it would cost about as much as an extra Canadian icebreaker and would contribute far more towards policing the high arctic).

    The presentation from an aerospace executive on how space based industries are essentially the R&D arm of aerospace and why Canadian aerospace industries are foolish to ignore this subset.

    The MDA presentation on “flow through tax credits” how they are presently used in the Canadian mining industry to fund high risk, high cost ventures with a long lead time for ROI and how their use for aerospace R&D could expand and grow Canadian space based research and development exponentially.

    The Rideau Group presentation on the present lack of a national space policy (which makes it difficult for industry to plan ahead) with a listing of the best politicians in Canada to talk with on aerospace R&D and industrial infrastructure issues.

    The conference link is at http://spacecommerce.ca/events/canadian-space-summit/ for anyone who’d like to take a look.

  • I’d just like to thank Chuck for his support, and for his work as one of the organizers the Canadian Space Summit. Unfortunately our group wasn’t able to get the report out in time to officially present it at the CSS, but it’s good to see that consensus is building within the Canadian space community on these important issues.

    Irrespective of suggestions for specific technology programs being advocated by individuals and organizations in industry, it is important that the Canadian Space Agency and the government officials who oversee it recognize the importance of renewal by publicly and pro-actively pursuing new and innovative strategies on the government’s side of space.

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