Monday, August 14, 2017

Canadians Can Absolutely Build Rockets Anytime They Want!

          By Henry Stewart

This blog certainly missed the story when the winners of the 2017 Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) and 1st Annual Spaceport America Cup, which was held from June 20th - 24th in Las Cruces, NM and at Spaceport America in Truth or Consequences, NM., were first announced.

An overview of the ESRA, which has historically organized the annual IREC,  and Spaceport America, its new partner for 2017. Video c/o Spaceport America.

But by early August, when the results were posted on the Space Concordia Facebook page, it was becoming obvious that Canadian universities had won far more than their fair share of trophies. As outlined on the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA) website post on "the 2017 Spaceport America Cup Winners!!!," Canadian teams won in a variety of categories including:
The IREC Technical Excellence and Innovation Award category;
The Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) Payload Challenge;
  • An honorable mention for "incredible engineering research on propellant slosh done at altitude" was won by Team 9 from Concordia University
  • A second honorable mention for "engineering design and fabulous manufacture of a quadcopter" was also presented to Team 36 from McGill University.
The IREC category award for 10k ft COTS was won by Team 70 from the University of British Columbia. In the IREC category award for 30k ft COTS, Team 53 from Ryerson University placed second, while Team 96 from the University of Waterloo won first place in the 10k ft SRAD Hybrid/Liquid category.
The full list of winners is available on the ESRA website.
It's unfortunate but true that most of the Canadian competitors for this event won't end up in Canada if they decide to look for employment in rocketry, at least the way the industry stands today.

Maybe that will change by the time they graduate. After all, the contest has certainly proved that Canadian's can build rockets anytime they want!
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Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

The 2017 Edition of "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs in Space!"

          By Chuck Black

Image c/o Know Your Meme. 
For those of us interested in working in the telecommunications, space or aerospace industry, here's a listing of several dozen useful places to begin the search.

The list includes direct links to the job pages of some of the largest Canadian space companies and a couple of interesting international organizations.

But please note that some of these jobs require security clearances, passports, work permits, landed immigrant status and/or even the acquisition of citizenship from the country where the job just happens to be located.

Happy hunting...

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The 100 Top Aerospace Companies of 2017 - What better place to start than with the biggest and fastest growing firms in this area. Produced by Defence News, this annual report outlines the trends in the industry and ranks the top companies by revenues and profitability.

The Association of Spaceflight Professionals - The former US based, Astronauts for Hire, a 501(c)(3) non-profit formed in 2010 to recruit and train qualified scientists and engineers for the rigors of spaceflight, re-branded itself under this new name in June 2017. Much like A4H, the new ASP conducts a range of activities related to commercial astronaut workforce development, mission planning, operations support and research.

The Bigelow Aerospace Career Page - Where better to discover "your place in space," than the firm which just recently received backing from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As outlined in the February 25th, 2015 Yahoo News post, "Business On the Moon: FAA Backs Bigelow Aerospace," the company has been encouraged by a variety of US Federal government agencies to continue the development of private sector applications for use on the Moon and elsewhere in space.

The Blue Origin Career Page - As outlined in the August 14th, 2017 Business Insider post, "Here’s a first look at Jeff Bezos’ monster rocket factory," Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is building a new rocket factory in Florida and needs employees to staff it. If you want to become one of the chosen, check out the site.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Careers, Jobs and Internships Page - A one stop shopping emporium for CSA job opportunities. The site includes links to listings covering CSA job openings, internships and student jobsgrants for universities and industry to work on CSA approved programs and the Canadian Space Directory, a listing of private and public organizations and academic institutions which do work for the CSA.

The Epiq Space Job Board - This San Diego, California, based company is an online community dedicated to the satellite industry. The site was developed by industry veterans for engineers, scientists, suppliers, service providers and others who want to find products, companies, resources, industry news and career opportunities related to the satellite industry.

The European Space Agency (ESA) Career Page - As private business slowly begins to eclipse government in importance over the next few years, these government jobs will slowly begin drying up, so get them while they still available.

HE Space - Denmark-based specialist supplier of manpower for space programs with offices in the Netherlands, Germany and the US. The firm also manages the Jobs in Space Linked-In group.

The Indeed.com Listing of Astronomy and Planetary Scientist Jobs - Not all space focused jobs require applicants with an engineering degree. This list, with hundreds of openings from all around the world, focuses on candidates with a scientific background.

The International  Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) - Even in space, there are opportunities for those who are looking for something a little different from the traditional science or engineering degree. The IAMAW represents more than 40,000 Canadian workers in air transport and a wide range of manufacturing including aircraft, auto parts, buses, aerospace, electronics, light and heavy machinery, tools and appliances.

The MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) Corporate Careers Page - Who'd have thought that the Canadian space company which has so often expressed the importance of moving where the clients are, would have so many domestic opportunities available.

NASA Careers - A public listing of available National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) openings. According to the site, NASA is one of "the best places to work in the Federal government®" as ranked by federal employee satisfaction.

Nebula Space - Recruiters of "top class candidates for the most exciting industry in the world."

The NewSpace Global listing of top 1000 NewSpace companies - This list is divided up into three smaller lists covering the most influential privately held companies, a second list covering additional privately held companies perceived as being "on the bubble" of growth (NSG OTB) plus a third list of top rated publicly traded space companies (the NSG PTC). A surprising number of companies on these three lists are Canadian and a surprising number of the rest have offices and employment opportunities in Canada.

NewSpace People - British based, database driven head-hunting firm with 1000's of listings which bills itself as "the business network for the space industry's global professionals and companies." Offers business development and recruitment campaigns, plus "free access to a global network growing by over 5% each month. Our business network is diverse with over 3,000 director-level decision makers, covering 100s of startup founders, chief executives of established space and satellite corporations, and venture capitalists from the global investment community."

The Sapienza Consulting Space & Defence Industry Jobs & Career Page - Focused on jobs for people who are eligible to work in the European Union.

The Satellite Today Career Center - Focused on US based jobs in the commercial satellite industry.

Space Careers - A French based but English language site focused on "the top jobs and the best talents in the industry." Includes a jobs center, a space industry directory, a news and resource section with space news RSS feeds and a LinkedIn page. The site is maintained by Spacelinks, a specialist staffing consultancy focused on the European space and defense industry.

Space Individuals - Augsburg, Germany based  group of proactive people from various industries including aerospace engineering, information technology and user experience design, with  one common goal – to bring together individuals and employers.

The Space Job Market - A recruitment site designed to help job seekers join the right circles through networking and building personal contacts, where they can meet people in the space industry who are able to hire them. According to CEO and founder Paul Koronka, "Space has inadvertently evolved a closed shop that locks out newcomers and makes it difficult even for established people to advance our careers. And yet employers are crying out for new talent."

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STSCI) listing of Employment Opportunities - Located on the Johns Hopkins University Campus in Baltimore, Maryland, the STSCI manages both the Hubble Space Telescope and its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). They offer "the wonder of 21st century space exploration in a job that offers a competitive salary and generous benefits."

The Telesat Canada listing of Current Job Opportunities - The iconic Canadian company, which helped launch a communications revolution in the North back in the 1970's, is still going strong. It's also still looking for a few good people to help administer its current fleet of satellites. 

UNIFOR - This union, created from the 2013 merger of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), might not represent the typical career path imagined by the average astronaut wannabe, but Canada's largest private sector union does represent aerospace workers at Boeing Canada (Local 2169), Bombardier/ de Havilland (Local 112), Cascade Aerospace (Local 114), CMC Electronics, Magellan Aerospace (Local 3005) and Pratt and Whitney Canada (Local 510), which makes it worth checking out.

UrtheCast - Canada's most creative space company (formed through the "reverse takeover" of a publicly traded mining company) has many openings in Canada and the US on their careers page.

https://careers-virgingalactic.icims.com/jobs/search?ss=1&searchLocation=&searchCategory=&hashed=0Virgin Galactic (VG) - For those who prefer suborbital space travel, this firm has a jobs board with literally dozens of new positions waiting to be filled.

The Wikipedia listing of government agencies engaged in space exploration - Categorized according to capabilities and including links to the listed agency's primary website. Consider this as one stop shopping for those inclined towards government service.

The Wisdom.com listing of Aerospace Company Jobs - India's top jobs site has a large section of employment opportunities, as befitting a nation with one of the fastest growing indigenous space industries. But the real surprise is the number of international position which show up after a basic search.

The Work in Space Global Space Directory – Compiled by KNM Media Kent Ltd., a "marketing and publishing company specialising in the aerospace, defence, space and security/law enforcement markets." Hundreds of listings from dozens of companies.

The Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) careers page - The company that built the world's first "commercial spacecraft" has dozens of job openings covering a wide range of expertise.
Chuck Black.
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Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ghana in Space

          By Brian Orlotti

Last month, the African nation of Ghana launched its first ever satellite, GhanaSat-1, from the International Space Station (ISS). Africa’s new, low cost space efforts are attracting the attention of new space powers, who sense a business opportunity.

The trio responsible for GhannaSat-1. PhD students Benjamin Bonsu, Joseph Quansah and Ernest Teye Matey worked under the supervision of Professor Mengo Cho (not shown), the director of laboratory of spacecraft environment engineering and several other faculty members at ANU. As outlined in the June 2nd, 2017 Buzz Ghanna post, "GhannaSat-1: Ghanna's First Space Satellite to be Launched in Japan," the program was initially funded by a $500,000 US grant from ANU. 

GhanaSat-1 is a cubesat developed by a student team at Ghana’s All Nations University (ANU), with financial and technical support from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). No financial support from the Ghanian government was provided.

Weighing around 1 kg and powered by on-board solar panels, the satellite carries low and high-resolution cameras that will be used to take pictures of Ghana and monitor the country's coastline as well as sensors to measure the effects of space radiation on commercial microprocessors. GhanaSat-1 was delivered to the ISS in June on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, then launched on July 7th by a Japanese astronaut from the NanoRacks cubesat deployer, located in the station’s Kibo module.

The satellite will serve as both a technology demonstrator and Earth observation satellite. In an interview with the BBC, Richard Damoah, Director ANU’s Space Systems Technology Laboratory, said that the satellite would "...also help us train the upcoming generation on how to apply satellites in different activities around our region. For instance, [monitoring] illegal mining is one of the things we are looking to accomplish."


With the success of GhanaSat-1, Ghana is now reportedly making plans for a GhanaSat-2, to be equipped with better cameras for monitoring deforestation as well as the country’s water usage.

In addition to Japan, other spacefaring nations are taking interest in Africa’s space activites. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), India’s national space agency, is one of them. In an interview with Sputnik Media, Dr Mayank Vahia, a scientist in the department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Mumbai’s TATA Institute of Fundamental Research stated:
ISRO definitely aims to commercially tap the multi-billion dollar global space market as well, which will grow only as nations realise the usefulness of satellites for Earth observation, telecommunications and a host of other objectives. 
When it comes to satellite launches, ISRO has a distinct advantage as it could deliver it in a cost-effective way as seen during the launch of 104 satellites in February earlier this year.
Vahia’s reference to India’s world-record-setting launch of 104 satellites in a single mission aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) last February, combined with its new interest in Africa, reflects the South Asian nation’s hunger for a larger share of the $300 billion USD global space industry.

As new innovations drive the cost of rocket and satellite technology down, smaller nations will be able to contribute to space exploration and development. In past ages of exploration, smaller powers (such as Portugal and The Netherlands) were able to exert their own influence alongside larger ones, shaping large swaths of the world---culturally, politically and economically---(for better or worse) in their own right.

Our own burgeoning age of space exploration will likely see the same.
Brian Orlotti.
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Brian Orlotti is a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Canadian Space Agency Will Spend $50,000 So That AI Sales People Can Pitch Them Products

          By Chuck Black

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes the story just writes itself.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has issued an advanced contract award notice (ACAN) for $50,000 CDN to Element AI, a high flying Montreal, PQ based artificial intelligence incubator, to "uncover potential applications within the Canadian space sector," suitable for the use of the artificial intelligence (AI) tools which Element AI specializes in.

Element AI co-founder Yoshua Bengio at the 2016 TED Montreal conference, which was held on November 12th, 2016. As outlined in the May 17th, 2017 TEDx Talks post, "The Rise of Artificial Intelligence through Deep Learning | Yoshua Bengio | TEDxMontreal," Bengio is also "the head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), Professor at the Université de Montréal, member of the NIPS board" along with his role at Element AI. He also holds the Canada Research Chair in statistical learning algorithms, is a senior fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and co-directs its program focused on deep learning. According to Bengio, "Montreal has become the largest concentration of deep learning researchers in the world." Screen shot c/o You Tube.

Before we conclude that the appropriate "potential applications" for AI at the CSA include pretty much everything the agency is currently involved with (except for maybe the astronaut program), we might want to take a closer look at the award.

As outlined in the August 8th, 2017 Buy and Sell Canada post, "Assessment and roadmap development for the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Canadian space sector (9F060-20170324),"
...there is a need to grow Canada’s advantage in Artificial Intelligence (AI). A combination of strong public support for research programs and world class expertise at Canadian universities and start-up companies has helped to propel Canada to a leadership role in AI and deep learning. Canada aims to retain and attract top academic talent, and to increase the number of post-graduate trainees and researchers studying in these fields. 
To support these objectives, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) aims to uncover the potential applications and impact of AI within the Canadian space sector. The information gathered will serve to define a cohesive approach and guide Canada’s future investments in space technology development.
Element AI still needs to respond to the ACAN before the award can move forward.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visiting the Magna International facility in Brampton, Ontario on March 30th, 2017. As outlined in the March 31st, 2017 Weekly East Asian Connections post, "PM Trudeau Announces New Pan-Canadian Intelligence Strategy in Brampton,"  the PM was visiting as part of his "post-budget tour" to announce the "new Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy." Photo c/o Weekly East Asian Connections.

The latest CSA announcement is part of the ongoing, $125Mln CDN Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, announced as part of the Federal Budget in March 2017.

The strategy, "will also promote collaboration between Canada’s main centers of expertise in Montreal, Toronto-Waterloo and Edmonton. The investment will build on existing AI advancements and create a critical mass of talent necessary for Canadian businesses to succeed in changing markets."

As outlined in the March 30th, 2017 Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Ideas Exchange Post on the, "Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy Overview," there are four major goals of the program:
  • Increase the number of outstanding artificial intelligence researchers and skilled graduates in Canada.
  • Establish interconnected nodes of scientific excellence in Canada’s three major centres for artificial intelligence in Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto.
  • Develop global thought leadership on the economic, ethical, policy and legal implications of advances in artificial intelligence; and
  • Support a national research community on artificial intelligence.
The program is being led by CIFAR and over the next five years, the intent is to:
... enhance Canada’s international profile in AI research and training; increase the productivity in AI academic research and enhanced capacity to generate world-class research and innovation; increase collaboration across geographic areas of excellence in AI research and strengthen relationships with receptors of innovation; attract and retain outstanding AI talent in Canadian universities and industry; and translate AI research discoveries in the private and public sectors leading to socio-economic benefits for Canada.
Not that there is anything wrong with that. But it's not really a CSA program and has almost nothing to do with space or the space industry, except for the $50,000 CDN the CSA has contributed.

It is instead a well funded CIFAR program ($125Mln CDN, even without the CSA contribution) which will go into a variety of government departments and academic organizations over the next five years to enhance Canada's international profile in AI research and convince them to buy products from AI companies like Element AI, which are located in Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and maybe a few other places.


And while it's good that Canadian government funding is going into an area of acknowledged expertise, it's also a shame that the space industry, another area of acknowledged Canadian expertise, still isn't receiving the attention it requires and deserves.

Maybe the CSA should be spending their allocated $50,000 to meet with AI experts who know about fund raising and lobbyists.

As shown above, CIFAR has even been referenced in a video on the topic, so you just know they gotta have some expertise in this area.
Chuck Black.
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Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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