Sunday, April 23, 2017

Part 6: A History of the Canadian Space Program - Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets

The 1980's, A "National Space Agency," Canadarm's Rollout, The Second Three Year Space Plan & Canada's First Astronauts

Scan c/o Globe and Mail.
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.

In late 1979 and early 1980 the Ministry of State for Science and Technology (MOSST) and the Air Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) independently analyzed the existing approach to space in Canada and both concluded that there were weaknesses that limited the scope and benefits of the program. 

Both also concluded that correction of these deficiencies was essential to the more efficient and effective use of the government’s space resources. The AIAC argued strongly for the formation of a national space agency. 

In response to these concerns, the Prime Minister in July 1980 assigned to MOSST “the leadership role with respect to space policy and development” and transferred responsibility for the Interdepartmental Committee on Space (ICS) from the Minister of Communications to the Minister of MOSST. Thus, in 1980, MOSST became the lead agency in the areas of space research and development, policy development, and coordination of space activities among government departments and agencies.

In April 1981, John Roberts, the Minister of State for Science and Technology announced a three-year space plan for Canada (1981/82 to 1983/84). This was the first time that a consolidated space plan had been considered by the government. The plan was aimed at building upon Canada’s strengths to use space for communications and science, while at the same time developing a major new thrust in the area of remote sensing. 

As outlined in the April 9th, 1981 United Press International (UPI) post, "Science Minister John Roberts Announced an Increase in Federal Funding for Space Research," Canada's first three year space plan was part of a proposal to centralize Federal space activities into a single agency, while also providing a funding increase for space and other areas of scientific research in order to assist with moving the plan forward. Roberts proposed a $64Mln CDN increase (to $260Mln CDN) for space research, along with a further increase of $200Mln CDN (to $1.5Bln) in all other areas of Federally funded scientific research and development. Screenshot c/o UPI archives.  

More than 60% of the new funding of $64Mln CDN was dedicated to remote sensing projects including a new basic R&D program to give Canada the technological and industrial competence to develop and establish a remote sensing satellite carrying a synthetic aperture radar (which eventually became known as RADARSAT). In making his announcement, Mr. Roberts indicated that it was the government’s intention to update the three year space plan every year.

During this period, Canada also delivered the first of what would become multiple Canadarm's to NASA. A post (unfortunately, now deleted) on the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) website describes very eloquently the moment that Canadarm sprung into the consciousness of people everywhere in the world:
The morning of Friday, November 13, 1981, yielded a great emotional moment of pride for all Canadians. Shortly past 10:00 a.m. EST on that date, a majestic sight was broadcast on every television screen around the world. 
Through the aft window of shuttle Columbia, a video camera operated by the two STS-2 astronauts, Commander Joe Engle and Pilot Richard Truly had begun to transmit the first images of the deployed Canadarm. 
The arm, bent in an inverted V shape position, shined against the jet-black background of space, under a milky blue portion of the earth. The Canada wordmark with the red maple leaf flag prominently displayed on the upper arm boom of the Canadarm were a proud and clear statement about Canada’s official contribution to the Space Shuttle program. Canadarm quickly became the icon around the world for Canada’s high technology capabilities. 
The importance of the Canadarm to the Shuttle Program is indicated by the fact that this first flight of the arm took place on just the second Shuttle flight.

In December 1981, Mr. Roberts announced the government’s second three-year space plan (1982/83 to 1984/85) that in essence added one more year to the previously announced plan. This new plan increased the government’s expenditures on space for these three years by 38% and included Canadian participation in the L-SAT Communications Satellite Program of ESA (justified on the grounds that it would support the prime contractor policy) and project definition studies for a new communications satellite program (MSAT) to provide communications services to mobile users anywhere in Canada.

In 1982, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the flight of Alouette I, NASA extended an invitation for Canada to fly its own astronauts on the Shuttle. This offer was clearly seen as a “thank you“ to Canada for providing the Canadarm.

The government recognized immediately the significance of this offer and National Research Council (NRC), as the only organization in the government with human space flight experience, was assigned responsibility to establish the Canadian Astronaut Program Office.

The NASA offer was for two payload specialist flights, but NRC had ambitions to ensure Canada would be ready for additional flight opportunities, including flights to the space station that was on the drawing boards at NASA. In July, 1983 NRC placed an ad in Canadian newspapers seeking candidates.

A 1983 help wanted ad. Image c/o Ron Riesenbach's Blog.

Canada’s first six astronauts were announced in December, after a country-wide competition involving more than 4400 applicants. Ten months later, in October 1984 Marc Garneau became the first Canadian to fly in space. A little over a year later, the Shuttle that had taken Marc into orbit exploded on launch killing all seven astronauts on board.

It is interesting to note that Canada entered the human space flight arena primarily to support the Canadian Space industry. There was no Canadian user need for either the Canadarm or the Astronauts, but the space industry needed a major program to follow-on to CTS.

But public reaction to the Canadarm and the astronaut programs was so positive and so strong that these one shot efforts created the policy imperative to make human space flight a permanent part of the Canadian Space Program and would lead eventually to the creation of the Canadian Space Agency.

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 McDonald "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.

Last Week: "Winding up the 1970's, The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Spar Aerospace, MacDonald Dettwiler, a Seminal 1974 "Canadian Policy for Space" & the Canadarm," in part five of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets."

Next Week: "More on the 1980's" as part seven of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets," continues.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Space Advisory Committee Members Announced: Stakeholders Begin Independently Releasing Their Own Views, Just in Case

          By Chuck Black

With almost no fanfare in either the mainstream media or amongst the Federal government, but with a great deal of confusion from the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), the Federal government department tasked with administering its activities. the members of the long awaited space advisory board were finally announced on Tuesday evening.

Industry minister James Moore at the 2014 Canadian Aerospace Summit and his successor, innovation minister NavDeep Bains at the 2016 edition of the same event. As outlined in the November 19th, 2014 post, "Industry Minister Moore Announces Space Advisory Board Members," the membership of the space advisory board was long-awaited even in 2014, when Moore appointed Colonel Chris Hadfield, retired general and former CSA president Walt Natynczyk and others to the original committee. However, the 2014 board never issued a report and so the search for a new board was announced by innovation minister Bains in November 2016 at the 2016 Aerospace Summit. The creation of a space advisory board was one of the recommendations of the November 2012 Federal Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies (or "Emerson Report") which was presented to another industry minister, Christian Paradis, in November 2012. Photo's c/o Chuck Black & Brian Orlotti.

As outlined in the April 18th, 2017 Government of Canada news release, "Government of Canada renews Space Advisory Board," the new board, chaired by Dr. Marie Lucy Stojak, the Director of the Summer School on Management of Creativity in an Innovation Society at HEC Montréal, will:
... engage with Canadians to develop a new vision for Canada’s space sector and define key elements of a strategy that will be launched this summer. The advisory board’s input will inform the strategy, which will focus on using space to drive broader economic growth and innovation, while inspiring the next generation of space scientists.
The other committee members include:

A reminder that one of the real issues currently preoccupying  the Canadian government is whether it should continue  supporting at least one Canadian based contractor capable of building large, multi-function Canadian military satellites like RADARSAT-2 and the upcoming RADARSAT Constellation or open future competition to lower cost, international bids. The March 29th, 2017 SatCom Frontier post, "Commercial Space Operators to Canada; 'We're Here and We can Help,'" argues that large, international satellite providers like Intelsat General Corporation are able to assist with complex military programs like the proposed Enhanced Satellite Communication Project (ESCP). For a contrary view on this issue, its worth taking a look at the April 9th, 2017 post, "Part 4: A History of the Canadian Space Program - Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets," which focused on "the 1970's, "Equal Access" to Communications, "Improved Industrial Capability" and the Hermes Communication Satellite" and was even co-written by one of the new members of the current space advisory board. Graphic c/o Intelsat General Corporation.

The new members replace others appointed by the previous government to the same board in 2014. That board never issued a public report or held any public meetings.

The new board is expected to engage in a process similar to the methodology employed during the "massive" review of Federal science funding which wound up last week.

As outlined in the April 17th, 2017 post, "'Massive' Review of Federal Science Funding Finally Released; Will Likely Soon 'Drop Down the Memory Hole,'" that review seems to have achieved less than stellar results and might not be a good model to emulate.

The only real surprise expected to come out of this review (and how's that for irony) could be an acknowledgement that foreign companies like Airbus and Intelsat General Corporation might soon be able to bid on large Canadian space projects.

This is especially likely given the inclusion of Pley and Tovee on the board, although the debate on this particular issue originated in the early days of Canada's space efforts.

Some organizations are willing to lobby the Federal government even without the bully pulpit provided by the space advisory board. An example would by the 8th Joint Planetary and Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium (PTMSS) and Space Resources Roundtable, which will be held in conjunction with the 2017 Canadian Institute of Mining (CIM) Convention in Montreal, PQ and promises "major announcements" from international space mining companies. Event organizers, such as Deltion Innovations CEO Dale Boucher have long advocated the use of tax credit system currently used in the mining, to grow the Canadian space industry. Boucher was last profiled in the April 10th, 2016 post, "Deltion Innovations Receives Gov't Funding to Develop Multi-Tool for Space Mining; Will Anyone Buy It?" For more on the mining industry and how it could drive space exploration, check out the July 30th, 2012 CSCA submission to the Aerospace Review, "Using Tools from the Mining Industry to Spur Innovation and Grow the Canadian Space Industry." Graphic c/o Deltion Innovations.

Besides, as recently as a few years ago, Canada had two domestic firms capable of building large satellites.

However, as outlined most recently in the April 19th, 2017 post, "American MDA Subsidiary Promotes "DEXTRE" for US as NASA RESTORE-L Satellite Servicing Budget Slashed," Richmond, BC based MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) is currently hunting US government and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contracts, which subjects the company to many of the same US export licencing regulations that delayed the launch of RADARSAT-2 for almost seven years, and currently causes concern among those responsible for developing Canadian policies relating to northern sovereignty.

Also, in February 2016, common shares of Cambridge, Ontario based COM DEV International were de-listed from the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) as the iconic Canadian company finished up its final task of becoming a subsidiary of US conglomerate Honeywell.

However, nothing is ever certain in politics or in political committees. Board member Evans has often argued publicly for a policy of "capacity building" which would favor specific Canadian companies with additional funds and tax benefits to allow them to compete with large foreign multinational competitors, who typically also receive subsidiaries from their national governments.

Evans argues that the creation of a domestic space industry outweighs the up-front costs associated with "capacity building," and supports the growth of domestic expertise and industry.

The Canadian Senate isn't waiting for the space advisory committee to issue a report when it can issue its own. As outlined in the April 19th, 2017 Space News post, "Report: Canada should work with U.S. to protect satellites as “critical infrastructure,” a report from the Senate’s Standing Committee on National Security and Defence and Security advocates the designation of "satellites and radar installations as critical infrastructure and seek ways to secure the full spectrum of all critical infrastructure assets against significant threats, including electromagnetic pulse, by 2020 in partnership with the United States and other countries." The article notes that the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has long been advocating this approach. Screenshot c/o Space News.

Support for the new space advisory board, at least among the Federal government departments likely to be the most affected by any final report, seems tentative at best.

For example, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is in the midst of a series of announcements related to the development of technologies they expect to utilize over the coming years and have been doing this without any guidance from the space advisory board.

As outlined most recently in the April 3rd, 2017 post, "The Canadian Space Agency is "Very" Cautious About Its Post ISS Role," and the April 19th, 2017 More Space News post, "The Canadian Space Agency has just announced 15 more "priority technologies" it wants to develop," the CSA already has a strong, if also strongly conservative, sense of where it wants to go over the next decade.

There is also some question about whether the Department of National Defense (DND) is on-board with the new board.

As outlined in the April 17th, 2017 post, "An Update on NS Rockets, Intelsat Hunting for Canadian Gov't Satellite Contracts & More Ukrainian Lybid News," DND is pushing its own military space program, the proposed Enhanced Satellite Communication Project (ESCP), and the new project is likely out of the scope of the space advisory board mandate.

Professor Ram Jakhu, the associate director of the Centre for Research of Air and Space Law at McGill University, was one of two authors of the February 17th, 2017 "Independent Review of the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act." The report makes a number of recommendations directly relevant to the mandate of the new space advisory board but there was no plans from the Federal government to release the report for public comment. Fortunately, and as outlined in the April 20th, 2017 SpaceQ post, "Exclusive: A Review of Canada’s Remote Sensing Law Recommends Creating a New General Outer Space Act," that review is now open to public perusal. The report and other issues relating to it, will be the topics of discussion when Jakhu and the Centre hold the 5th Annual Manfred Lachs International Conference on Global Space Governance, which will be held in Montreal, PQ from May 5th - 6th. Hopefully, someone from the space advisory board will also be there. Photo c/o McGill University.

It's also worth noting that, while the space advisory board members are expecting to hold a series of town halls across the country to solicit feedback and assist with the development of useful policy, the secretariat supporting the space advisory board has so far refused to confirm or deny any activities the committee could possibly be conducting, except for one meeting taking place in Ottawa on Friday, April, 21st.

Here's hoping that they organize a few more meetings after that first one. There's a lot of data to collect and some actual activities culminating in a proper, publicly available report would certainly be an improvement over the last time.
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Monday, April 17, 2017

An Update on NS Rockets, Intelsat Hunting for Canadian Gov't Satellite Contracts & More Ukrainian Lybid News

          By Henry Stewart

For the week of April 17th, 2017, here are a few of the stories we're currently tracking for the Commercial Space blog:

  • The CBC seems to be fascinated by Maritime Launch Services (MLS) and it's so far unfunded effort to place a Ukrainian built Cyclone-4M commercial rocket launching facility in Nova Scotia.
As outlined in the April 11th, 2017 CBC News post, "It is rocket science: New details revealed about proposed space port in Nova Scotia," the company "with plans to launch rockets from Nova Scotia has applied to lease 15 hectares of provincially owned land outside Canso, according to documents obtained by CBC News."
Evidently, the "272-tonne rockets will be constructed in Ukraine," then "loaded aboard a RoRo (Roll-On, Roll-Off) vessel and carried across the North Atlantic for delivery to the Port of Mulgrave and then barged to the Port of Canso as regulated by Transport Canada marine security requirement."
Others have reacted more cautiously. 
As outlined in the April 17th, 2017 Herald chronicle post, "Spaceport project hinges on moose count," the project still needs to show it can be built in compliance with local laws and requirements. 
An MLS Industry Day Meeting is planned for April 27th, 2017 in Antigonish, NS and will include a presentation by MLS president Steve Matier plus "invitation-only, one-on-one meetings."
According to the article: 
MLS is continuing to develop relationships with local and regional companies to support their construction and operations plans for the facility with the intention to hire locally as much as possible.
As outlined in the September 11th, 2016 post, February 6th, 2017 post, "Europe Will Fund the Prometheus Reusable Engine; Canada Pitched Cyclone-4's," MLS is essentially acting as a local agent for Ukrainian based Yuzhnoye, which designed the rocket originally for Brazil and needs at least $100Mln CDN to fund any NS based facility. 
MLS CEO John Isella even continues to work out of the Washington, DC Yuzhnoye office, where he also acts as the North American representative for Yuzhnoye business development.
It's worth noting that some space focused sites, like the Canadian based and the international focused Space Daily, pass off press releases as original news. An example would be the March 29th, 2017 Intelsat General promotional post, "Commercial Space Operators To Canada: “We’re Here, and We can Help,” seen here beside the identical April 13th, 2017 Space Daily editorial post, "Commercial Space Operators To Canada: "We're Here, and We can Help."" Graphic c/o Satcom Frontier & Space Daily. 
The new project is a replacement for the Canadian civilian/military hybrid Polar Communications & Weather (PCW) satellite constellation which, as outlined in the July 17,th 2016 post, "The Polar Communications & Weather Satellite (PCW) Mission is Dead; To Revive it, our Military Wants More Money," was cancelled last year and replaced with a international, military focused program.
The budget for the ESC program is estimated at up to $2.4Bln CDN.
As outlined in the March 14th 2017 Defense Watch post, "Canada talking to US, Norway and Denmark about footing bill for new Arctic military satellite," a contract is currently scheduled to be awarded in 2020 and the spacecraft could be launched as early as 2024.
The core of the Intesat strategy is outlined in the March 29th, 2017 SATCOM Frontier post, "Commercial Space Operators To Canada: “We’re Here, and We can Help." SATCOM Frontier is part of the marketing arm of the US subsidiary of Intelsat. 
The potential for large, foreign firms to bid on large Canadian government satellite contracts was first raised in the January 31st, 2017 post, "Satellite Servicing, Orbital ATK, MDA, "Security Control Agreements," CETA, Minister Duncan's Science Adviser & Nova Scotia Spaceports."
The 1845 kg Lybid-1 communications satellite. Graphic c/o Kyiv Post.
  • The Ukrainian state news agency Interfax-Ukraine is again reporting that the "first Ukrainian telecommunications satellite," could finally be placed into orbit in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The Lybid-1 was built by Richmond, BC based Macdonald Dettwiler (MDA) under contract to the State Space Agency of the Ukraine (SSAU) using an ISS-Reshetnev developed Ekspress-1000 bus and an MDA developed communications payload.
As outlined in the December 9th, 2016 Interfax Ukraine post, "SSAU seeks to prepare for launch of first Ukrainian satellite Lybid in 2017," the Canadian Export Development Canada (EDC), provided a $254.6Mln CDN loan under "Ukrainian government guarantees to finance the project in the summer of 2009. Initially it was planned to put the Ukrainian satellite into orbit in 2012, later it was postponed to 2013 and then to April 2014," when the November 2013 Ukrainian crisis erupted and launch plans were shelved. 
As outlined in the April 12th, 2017 Interfax-Ukraine post, "Ukrainian satellite Lybid could be launched by late 2017 – acting SSAU head," the latest report originates with the "acting head" of the State Space Agency of Ukraine (SSAU), Yuriy Radchenko, who said that an additional $17Mln US ($23Mln CDN) had been committed by Ukraine in order to complete the project.
As outlined originally in the December 12th, 2016 post, "exactEarth, Lybid-1, the CSA (which Needs more Committees) and the Upcoming 2017 Earth Observation Summit," the completed Lybid-1 satellite is still being stored at Reshetnev in Krasnoyarsk (Russia), while the "Canadian partner is holding talks with Russia to get guarantees to launch the satellite" sometime in 2017." 
For more, check out our upcoming stories in the Commercial Space blog.

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

"Massive" Review of Federal Science Funding Finally Released; Will Likely Soon "Drop Down the Memory Hole"

          By Chuck Black

The "massive" review of Federal science funding, announced in June, 2016 by the Justin Trudeau Liberal government, finally released its report on April 10th.

But the review is expected to quickly slide into irrelevance because of its first recommendation for additional funding to assist "younger researchers" attempting to establish their careers through government funded research and its second recommendation, to form yet another committee tasked with further assessing the situation.

Federal science minister Kirsty Duncan commenting on the report by a federal panel looking at scientific research funding in Canada, in Ottawa on April 10th, 2017. As outlined in the April 11th, 2017 National Observer post, "Canada trails 11 countries in clean tech research, report finds," the "overall conclusion" of the report was that "independent science and scholarly inquiry have been underfunded for much of the last decade." For those of us who prefer to peruse the primary source materials before drawing conclusions, the complete report, under the title "Investing in Canada's Future; Strengthening the Foundation of Canada's Research," is available online on the Science Review website. Photo c/o Alex Tétreault.

A reasonable person might ask why this will happen? That answer is revealingly obvious. 

The government simply doesn't expect many of the already established scientists who currently receive the overwhelming majority of federal grants under programs administered through the National Research Council (NRC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), as well as programs like the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the various Canada Research Chairs, Genome Canada and others to give up their existing funds without a fight.

So the only real option to assist young researchers is to allocate more funds, which will be difficult to do if the ruling Liberals want to cut into Canada's growing federal deficit. As outlined in the Jan 5th, 2017 CBC News post, "Decades of deficits could be ahead for Canada, federal analysis warns," the existing deficit will be very difficult to tackle. 

So the report may never be acted upon, which is as good a reason as any to form another committee and study the situation some more.

Maybe someone on the next committee will even come up with a better idea.

Fortunately, many university students are picked up by the private sector after getting their BA. To celebrate, here's a cartoon from the undated, and terribly pessimistic, College Express post, "The 20 Steps of Graduate Research...Told in Cartoons."

As outlined in the April 10th, 2017 Globe and Mail post, "Massive review of federal science funding reveals risks to younger researchers," the federal government spends more than $10Bln CDN on science and technology annually and: 
About half that amount is directed toward so-called intramural research and regulatory science conducted in federal labs that fall under the purview of various ministries, including more than $1-billion a year for the National Research Council of Canada, and was not considered by the review panel.
The review called for an increase of "base-level spending" by "core funding agencies" to $4.8Bln a year from the current $3.5Bln CDN  after a four year "ramp up period."

It also criticized an overly siloed research system that the panel called “weakly co-ordinated” and “inconsistently evaluated,” often to the detriment of younger researchers who are trying to establish their careers in a fast moving and competitive landscape.

The report recommends the creation of more structure, including a senior-level advisory council that would ride herd over the entire funding framework. As outlined in the post: 
...the proposed National Advisory Council on Research and Innovation would be composed of 12 to 15 members, including prominent scientists and scholars. The new council would be given the task of reviewing and assessing all components of the funding system and weighing in before the government launches any new funding organizations and initiatives.
In essence, the review has recommended the creation of another committee, which will further "assess" and "review."

It's often surprising to note the items which fall down the memory hole. Take, for example, the April 12th, 2016 post, "The National Research Council Doesn't Fit Within the Current Innovation Agenda," which discussed the underlying reasons leading up to the June 2016 announcement that the Federal government would conduct a review of the machinery in place to support science and scientists in Canada. Graphic c/o The Commercial Space blog

As outlined in the June 13th, 2016 post, "Government Announces Comprehensive Review of Canadian Science," the independent panel, which reported to Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, was tasked with reviewing the program machinery currently in place to support science and scientists in Canada.

The panel was originally expected to issue a public report before the end of 2016.
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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