Friday, July 21, 2017

Hytera Communications Expelled From China Based Trade Association Over "Disputed Bidding"

          By Chuck Black

Canada's Globe and Mail is reporting a new ripple in the ongoing takeover of Vancouver-based Norsat International, the Canadian high technology satellite communications company acquired in June 2017 by Chinese based Hytera Communications.

Hytera chairman, and principal shareholder, Chen Qingzhou.  Photo c/o Hytera.

As outlined in the July 21st, 2017 Globe and Mail post, "Chinese firm expelled from trade association days before takeover of Canadian high-tech company," Hytera was expelled from a mobile-technology trade association run by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security for its involvement in the disputed bidding on a Chinese police contract, "just days before it closed a deal to buy Vancouver-based Norsat International."

According to the article, "the expulsion is unrelated to the takeover of the Canadian satellite communications company, but critics say Hytera’s past connections to Chinese security authorities and its questionable business dealings should have raised red flags in Ottawa."

As of publication, the details of Hytera’s expulsion from China’s Professional Digital Trunking (PDT) alliance remains shrouded in mystery. According to the Globe and Mail account, "it is unknown whether Mr. Chen, (Hytera chairman, and principal shareholder Chen Quinzhou) who has traveled on trade missions with the Chinese President, has run into trouble with the Communist Party, which has recently detained several billionaire businessmen and top party officials over alleged corruption and bribery."

This blog will be updated as new information becomes available.

The Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Norsat sale to Hytera in June 2017 without conducting a full-scale national security review.

However, and as outlined in the July 6th, 2017 post, "Avoiding "Norsat Like Uncertainty" by Allowing the Chinese to More Easily Buy Advanced Canadian Companies," the US government has announced a review of the purchase. The US military has contracts to buy satellite communications equipment from Norsat and that technology will now be transferred to China.
Chuck Black.
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Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

2017 NewSpace Global SmallSat Report is Now Available

          By Henry Stewart

There are a lot of space reports on the market. These include the annual Space Report Online (with "eleven years of data, resources and information on the worldwide space industry" collected by the Space Foundation, a US based charity) and the Annual Space Security Index, a "comprehensive, and integrated assessment of space security."

An overview of the 2017 NewSpace Global Smallsat Report. Graphic c/o NSG.

But, at least from a business perspective, one of the best resources is the annual NewSpace Global SmallSat Report. As outlined in the July 17th, 2017 press release, "The 2017 NewSpace Global SmallSat Report is now available" the newest report is now online.

The report highlights NSG's ability to combine historical analysis with accurate market and industry forecasting around the small-sat sector. The report also provides and overview of the ancillary companies and markets positioning themselves to profit from the expected growth in the smallsat sector over the next few years.

It also examines the increasingly important surge in dedicated small-sat vehicles seeking to capture global launch demand and assesses the importance of key events such as the potential broadband internet "mega-constellations" of SpaceX, OneWeb and Boeing; Softbank's $1.2Bln cash injection; and the general climate for private investment activity and M&A.

The report is designed to provide information on SmallSats that have been launched and are planned to be launched, analysis of the applications and sizes of various payloads, trends in capitalization and investment, and will answer questions such as:
  • Who are the fastest growing start-ups?
  • What is the market size?
  • How many SmallSats have been launched to date? What are trends with respect to the geography, entity type, time, size, and application? What are the 5-year projections?
  • Who are the top players in the industry?
  • What are the investment trends in SmallSat manufacturers and investors by geography and time?
  • How many SmallSats are launched by launch vehicle type and provider and geography? What are the trends?
  • What are the trends with respect to the 6th Vertical (In Space services)? Who are the players? What are the projections and analysis on growth in this evolving vertical?
The report has two components:
  • The Data Dive: a database of all SmallSats covered in the report as raw data designed to provide the user with a powerful tool to draw your own conclusions.
  • The Analysis Guide: select insights and data visualization based on the data collected.
Complete subscribers may access the Report on the NSG Deep Dive page. Core subscriber interested in obtaining this report, you can contact NSG at info@newspaceglobal.com to request access. 
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Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Selling CDN Space Companies to the US & China, Luxembourg's Evolving Space Mining Policy & NORsat 1 & 2

          By Henry Stewart

While many gainfully employed, academically inclined or politically motivated Canadian space geeks are soaking up the sun at one of  the many beaches accessible via train, plane and automobile, that's not necessarily true for all, especially if you're working in Washington, DC and intent on negotiating a new free trade agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico.

Given that, and for the week of July 17th, 2017, here are a few of the stories we're currently tracking for the Commercial Space blog:

Then Industry Minister James More announcing the first Space Advisory Board (SAB) in 2014.  As outlined in the November 19th, 2014 post, "Industry Minister Moore Announces Space Advisory Board Members," the original members of the SAB included Colonel Chris Hadfield, retired general and former CSA president Walt Natynczyk and a number of other, very memorable participants in the Canadian space community. But they came up with nothing, and it looks like the present membership of the SAB, is well on its way to similar success. Photo c/o Chuck Black

  • It's just gotta be a damn shame for the Canadian space industry if the only real question which comes out of the recent Space Advisory Board (SAB) series of meeting, held across Canada from April 19th to May 20th, 2017 and including over 130+ participants from all regions and space industry specialties, is whether we should sell our small Canadian based companies only to the Americans or if we can also sell them to the Europeans and the Chinese. 
But that seems to be the core take away if one focuses only on current media accounts. For example:
The article also compares the Canadian initiatives with China to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which, as outlined in the January 31th, 2017 post, "Satellite Servicing, Orbital ATK, MDA, "Security Control Agreements," CETA, Minister Duncan's Science Adviser & Nova Scotia Spaceports," the Trudeau government signed off on earlier this year.   
Given that the SpaceQ website, once known as SpaceRef.ca, has been both an important, ongoing advocate for Federal Liberal Party policies in this area and also a strong advocate for the SAB, the current article suggests a growing rank and file impatience with official Liberal policy under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
For an overview of those issues, check out the July 6th, 2017 post, "Avoiding "Norsat Like Uncertainty" by Allowing the Chinese to More Easily Buy Advanced Canadian Companies." 
  • Other media outlets, including this blog, which have objected to some of the machinations employed by Richmond, BC based MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) in order to gain access to lucrative US government and military contracts. 
For the most recent update on those activities, it's worth checking out the July 17th, 2017 post, "Orbital ATK, DARPA, MacDonald Dettwiler, DigitalGlobe & Unleashing the Lobbyists."
It's not that the Canadian space industry should avoid the sensible discussion of logical places for hard working founders to cash out their investments.
But we certainly shouldn't focus exclusively on selling off small innovative companies to foreign firms if we can instead build the infrastructure needed to support them as growing Canadian owned companies.
An English translation of the July 13th, 2017 Space Resources LU "Draft Law on the Exploration and Use of Space Resources." Graphic c/o Space Resources LU.

  • Speaking of space advisory boards, the Luxembourg Parliament has released a draft law on the exploration and use of space resources.
As outlined in the July 13th, 2017 Space Resources LU post, "Luxembourg is the First Nation to Offer a Legal Framework for Space Resources Utilization,"  the new document "is a key action of an overall strategy to be implemented by the Luxembourg government within the SpaceResources.lu initiative whose goal is to support the long-term economic development of new, innovative activities in the space industry." 
The post also quotes Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Étienne Schneider as stating that, "Luxembourg is the first adopter in Europe of a legal and regulatory framework recognizing that space resources are capable of being owned by private companies." 
According to Schneider, "the Grand Duchy thus reinforces its position as a European hub for the exploration and use of space resources. The legal framework is part of the expertise ecosystem and the business-friendly, innovation-nurturing environment that Luxembourg is offering to space industry companies. By adopting almost unanimously the respective draft law, the Luxembourg Parliament confirmed the strong political cross-party and national commitment to the SpaceResources.lu initiative." 
Luxembourg also continues to promote international cooperation in order to progress on a future governance scheme and a global regulatory framework of space resources utilization. Examples include "a joint statement on future activities concerning missions to the asteroids, related technologies and space resources exploration and utilization with the European Space Agency (ESA)."
Is the Canadian Space Advisory Board listening and willing to learn? If so, there is much they could learn from Luxembourg.

Norsat-1 graphic showing major components. Both Norsat-1 and 2 utilize the UTIAS SFL "Nemo" next generation satellite bus, which offers fine attitude control, high power generation, and high down-link rates. The satellite are approximately 15 kilograms with main body dimensions of 20x30x40cm, but vary slightly in specific configuration due to payload. Graphic c/o UTIAS-SFL.

As outlined in the July 14th, 2017 UTIAS SFL press release, "Norway Successfully Launches Microsatellites built by Toronto's Space Flight Laboratory," the two Norwegian micro-satellites, NORsat-1 (which carries a state-of-the-art automatic identification system (AIS) receiver to track maritime vessels, a set of langmuir probes to study space plasma characteristics, and a compact lightweight absolute radiometer (CLARA) to measure total solar irradiation and variations over time) and NORsat-2 (with a second AIS receiver and a VHF data exchange (VDE) payload to enable higher bandwidth two-way communication with ships.) , were "developed and built by SFL for the Norwegian Space Centre with support from the Norwegian Coastal Authority, Space Norway, and the European Space Agency (ESA)
The payloads were provided by Kongsberg Seatex, the University of Oslo and the Physikalisch-Meterologisches Observatorium Davos World Radiation Center.
As outlined in the July 14th, 2017 ESA post, "Norway Launches Advanced Satellite-AIS Payloads to Improve Maritime Shipping Coverage," the new satellites are expected to be able to detect 90% of all vessels in Barents Sea and Svalbard in a single pass.
Perhaps the Great White North still retains at least some expertise in space. At least our universities remain able to contribute effectively to international projects.
For more, check out upcoming stories in the Commercial Space blog.
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Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Orbital ATK, DARPA, MacDonald Dettwiler, DigitalGlobe & Unleashing the Lobbyists

          By Chuck Black

Those of us who need a reminder that our space industry is heavily dependent on the largesse of our political class need look no further than the recent adventures of Richmond, BC based MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) as it seeks to gain access to US government and military markets.

Want an overview of the DARPA RSGS program? Check out the March 25th, 2016 DARPA post, "Program Aims to Facilitate Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites." Graphic c/o DARPA.

To begin, Dulles, Virginia based Orbital ATK has failed in a legal bid to halt a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract for robotic satellite maintenance devices awarded under the DARPA Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program in February 2017. That award, originally made to MDA subsidiary Space Systems Loral (SSL), will now be able to move forward.

But plaintiff Orbital ATK hasn't given up on its claims and will instead go to the next level and lobby the political arena to see "if the White House can help it to bring the work to the private sector."

As outlined in the July 17th, 2017 The Register post, "DARPA's robot sat-fixing program survives sueball strike," the core of the Orbital ATK suit rested with a claim that the RSGS program violated America's 2010 National Space Policy, because the policy "forbids government space research from competing with the private sector."

As outlined in the July 12th, 2017 ruling handed down by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema dismissed Orbital ATK's complaint "on the basis that the 2010 National Space Policy doesn't have the force of law, meaning there was no basis for the lawsuit to proceed."

Leaving aside for the moment the question of "why" a US government agency would formulate a space policy document they didn't expect to be used as policy, it's worth noting that plaintiff Orbital ATK was also "miffed that DARPA had awarded the robosat contract to a competitor, Space Systems Loral (SSL) which, although based in California, is owned by Canadian outfit MacDonald Dettwiler. The suit suggested that at the contract's conclusion, SSL would then have the technology for its 'sole commercial use'."

Not that there's anything wrong with that, unless you're an MDA competitor. In which case you can argue that the US government provided an unfair advantage to your competition and "distorted the market."

Since the ruling avoided the question of whether the DARPA RSGS program was duplicating civilian programs, Orbital ATK will try other avenues to promote its views. They'll most likely try to gain an exception to the law for their specific case but it's possible that they might even attempt to change the law.

In either case, there is no doubt, that both sides in the court case will now unleash their lobbyists on the US government. 

As outlined in the February 4th, 2017 DennisWingo post, "On Orbit Servicing Controversy; DARPA VS Commercial," on-orbit satellite servicing has a long history, with commercial proposals going back to the 1950's and operational technology first being rolled out for the 1980's space shuttle missions, which utilized Canadian designed and built Canadarm technology. As outlined in the  December 16th, 2016 post, "MDA says No Sale of Canadarm Technology to the US Government in NASA RESTORE-L, DARPA RSGS or 'Any Other" Project,'" MDA insists that no Canadarm derived technology is being used in any of its current satellite servicing plans. Graphic c/o Dennis Wingo

Speaking of MDA and lobbyists, the company seems to be slowly working through its paperwork to finalize the acquisition of Westminster, CO based DigitalGlobe, and become the contractor of choice for various US military and civilian programs relating to Earth imaging and on-orbit satellite servicing.

Unfortunately for MDA, it's not all smooth sailing.

As outlined in the July 13th, 2017 Space Intel Report post "MDA, DigitalGlobe withdraw, resubmit acquisition documents for US national security review," the two companies have both "withdrawn and then re-filed documents about their planned merger with the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to give the committee additional time to assess the transaction for US national security implications."

Normally, the need to refile documents would indicate issues needing resolution before the merger is able to move forward. But the specifics of this refiling were not discussed in the public documentation, so we don't know what those issues are.

Here's what we do know. The CFIUS review is required under US law because MDA is a Canadian based company which has committed to operate DigitalGlobe as “a stand-alone division under SSL MDA Holdings Inc., which is MDA’s U.S. operating subsidiary," in order to comply with US laws and regulations governing Federal government subcontractors.

In essence, US military contractors normally need to be US owned and operated, which MDA isn't, at least so far. The official portion of MDA's US access plan to gain compliance with, or at least develop a workaround to the CFIUS requirements, is on the public record, but it likely isn't sufficient on it's own to obtain compliance.

So it's being rewritten and updated.

For more on the strategy as it stands today, check out the February 27th, 2017 post, "MacDonald Dettwiler & DigitalGlobe, the Worldview Legion Constellation, Canada's RADARSATs & America's "Deep State." For an MDA specific take, check out the July 12th, 2017 MDA/ DigitalGlobe joint press release, "MDA and DigitalGlobe Provide Update on Merger."


It's worth noting that, at least some of the strategies being used by MDA are either trade secrets (information not generally known or reasonably ascertainable by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customer), or else heavily dependent on the political arena to facilitate. 

In which case, expect MDA/DigitalGlobe/SSL to begin unleashing a second set of lobbyist's, focused around gaining support for the DigitalGlobe acquisition.

As Daffy Duck once said, "Yike's and away!"
Chuck Black.
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Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Canadian Space Industry Might Want to Embrace the 2017 Elevate Toronto Tech Festival

          By Brian Orlotti

The Canadian government hasn't had a long-term space plan for almost a decade, since 2009 when Richmond, BC based MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) tried (and failed) to sell it's space business to Virginia based Alliant Techsystems (ATK), in an attempt to gain access to the lucrative US military market.

Toronto Mayor John Tory at the July 11th, 2017 press conference announcing the 2017  Elevate Toronto Conference. It's a  a three-day tech festival that will showcase the best of the Canadian innovation ecosystem and welcome the world to Toronto. Photo c/o author.

And while there has been many promises, from both Federal Conservative and Liberal governments under Prime Ministers Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, each has failed to provide consistency and direction to the Canadian space industry.

Which is kinda odd since the future of our space industry has always been, and will likely continue to remain, providing space focused solutions to Earth based problems.

Of course, if you're really looking for the best solutions to Earth based problems, you might want to check out the 2017 Elevate Toronto conference, which will be held from September 12th - 14th in Toronto, Ontario.

Elevate Toronto Chair and former Achievers Inc CEO Razor Suleiman citing his gratitude to Canada for welcoming his Ismaili family from East Africa decades ago. Razor wants to build on the international success of Toronto events like the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the Austin TX based  South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) and its Toronto partner, the Toronto, ON based North by North West Festival (NXNW) to launch Elevate Toronto. Photo c/o author.

On July 11th, leaders from Toronto’s tech startup community gathered near the top of the CN Tower to unveil the event, intended to showcase Toronto’s thriving tech scene as well as promote the city internationally as a hub for investment and innovation.

Elevate Toronto is a non-profit collaboration between 17 technology organizations coming together to create the three-day festival (which will run September 12-14). These organizations include:
  • TechToronto – A local organization supporting the growth and development of the Toronto tech community. Best known for its monthly TechToronto Meetups.
  • MaRS Discovery District - A Toronto tech incubator founded in 2000 as a public/private partnership with the goal of commercializing research in medicine/biotech, information technology, engineering and other fields.
  • MoveTheDial – A local organization dedicated to bringing more women into the tech industry.
  • OneEleven – A Toronto tech incubator backed by OMERS Ventures, the venture capital arm of the powerful Ontario municipal employee pension fund 
  • Cossette Communications - A Canadian marketing communications firm headquartered in Quebec City with offices in Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg. Cossette’s clients include McDonald’s, General Motors, General Mills, Bank of Montreal, Procter & Gamble and Nike.
A recurring theme among the speakers at the Elevate Toronto unveiling was how diversity and prosperity complement and reinforce each other and provide a bulwark against current populist winds.


Elevate Toronto Chair and former Achievers Inc CEO Razor Suleiman eloquently championed diversity as a strength and not a weakness, offering his gratitude to Canada for welcoming his Ismaili family fleeing persecution in East Africa decades ago.

Suleiman pitched the new festival as a means of strengthening Canada by showcasing its talent to the world as well as enticing Canadian expats in the US and Europe back home. He also spoke of how his team seeks to model Elevate Toronto on internationally successful Toronto events like the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and The South by Southwest Festival (aka SXSW).

Toronto Mayor John Tory spoke next, making the point that supporting a thriving Toronto tech community boosts Canada’s prosperity which, in turn, helps prevent a descent into the xenophobic nationalism seen in the US and UK. Many Canadian expats in the audience, recently returned from the US with tales of racist harrassment, loudly applauded.

Standing in the crowd, the author could detect an energy---a zeal for greatness---emanating from the Toronto tech community. Canada’s space industry—listless and adrift---would do well to emulate the tech community as it seeks to step out of other nations’ shadows and elevate ours to new heights.
Brian Orlotti.
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Brian Orlotti is a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

Astronaut Julie Payette is Canada's Next Governor-General

         By Chuck Black

Retired Canadian astronaut Julie Payette will become Canada's next Governor-General, but don't get too excited. 

After all. it's mostly a symbolic role, so Payette won't be able to pester the Liberal government about the delayed report from the Space Advisory Board (SAB) pondering Canada's future in space or push for action on the review of Federal science funding, announced by Science Minister Kirsty Duncan back in June 2016, but mostly abandoned since the public report was released in April 2017. 

Trudeau and Payette at a press conference on Parliament Hill on Thursday. As outlined in the July 13th, 2017 CBC News post, 'Unquestionably qualified': Ex-astronaut Julie Payette formally introduced as Canada's next GG," Payette, who is also an accomplished athlete, pianist and choral singer, will succeed outgoing Gov. Gen. David Johnston. Photo c/o Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press.

But then, as an ex-government employee focused on supporting government policy, she wasn't really in a position to do that before, either. At least, she won't have to wear the blue Canadian Space Agency (CSA) jumpsuit to formal events. 

The announcement of the appointment was made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a news conference on Parliament Hill on Thursday, although government leaks insured that most major news outlets were aware of her new role the day before. 

As outlined in the July 13th, 2017 CBC News post, "As an astronaut, an engineer and a woman, Julie Payette will make her mark as governor general," the symbolism of her appointment, "will not be what some imagined it might be." However, the country "will soon be officially represented by an accomplished female astronaut and scientist. And that has a symbolic quality all its own."

Virtue signaling? Probably. And it would certainly be a bad thing for the person and her new position to overshadow and eventually supersede the development of appropriate policy.

But for now, the 53-year-old Montrealer, who speaks six languages, will become Canada's 29th governor general. She will be the fourth woman appointed to the role and is expected to take over from current Governor General David Johnston in the fall.
Chuck Black.
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Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Part 16: 150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History

Bombardier, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Conclusions

         By Robert Godwin
Canada's aerospace raison d'être has always derived from its immense size, its location in the far north as a vast, barely-tracked wilderness of incalculable resources and the logical requirements relating to defence, communications, utilization and exploration which naturally follow from its size and location.
The upshot of more than forty years of political machinations is that Canada now has only one major aircraft manufacturer, Bombardier Aerospace, which over the last few decades has become a global competitor in the mid-sized civilian jet market.
However, in 2016 an assortment of delays with a new line of aircraft pushed the company stock into difficult waters and once again the government was asked to intervene. In this instance the government of Quebec had the most to lose and so it was the first to pour money into the company.

The newly elected Trudeau government was expected to do the same, but the whole issue was delayed by complaints from Brazil's Embraer SA, which had accused the Canadian government of unfair subsidies. This situation was further complicated by the senior shareholders refusing to transfer stockholder control to the government in exchange for the investment.

As a partial solution the sophisticated new line of "C" series jets was spun off into a separate company and new management placed in charge. When Pierre Trudeau's government poured money into Canadair and de Havilland in the 1970s one of the first things he did was to place some new management into the ailing companies. This is standard company procedure in practically any majority sale of shares to new stockholders.


In February 2017 Justin Trudeau's government announced its intention to navigate this difficult problem by offering $372Mln CDN in interest-free loans to Bombardier, because the conventional tactic of money for shares/management control would place the majority of the company's ownership into government hands and would almost certainly trigger a trade dispute with the USA, Brazil and Europe.

Today Bombardier competes with Embraer to be the third largest manufacturer of jets in the world, but it is not the only aircraft manufacturer in Canada. Somewhat ironically, after so many of Canada's top aerospace engineers moved to Bell Aircraft in Buffalo in the 1950s, Bell ended up moving some of its helicopter manufacturing operations to Quebec.

There have also been dozens of other small aircraft manufacturers in Canada in the last hundred years. Those consigned to history include Vickers, Cub, Noorduyn and Fairchild. However, the light aircraft industry in 2016 still includes Bristol Aerospace and over two dozen other small companies.


The civilian airline market has an equally convoluted history far beyond the scope of this article. Well over two hundred domestic commercial air carriers have operated in Canada, half of them are still in business today, most flying aircraft made outside of Canada.

Satellites and rockets have never supplanted the need for aircraft. They are two completely different tools in our arsenal to study, explore and defend. Canada's huge size and difficult and varied climate has always required unique aerospace solutions. Whether it be planes capable of landing on water, or on skis (another of George Klein's inventions), or whether it be long-range interceptors, or better radio transmitters that can defeat the auroral interference; or special kinds of rocket fuel like that developed at  the Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment (CARDE) for the Black Brant. At the heart of the industry has been what Canadians needed, access to communications and resources.

At the time of writing, yet another cabinet in Ottawa is staying awake at night trying to decide which aircraft to choose for the next generation of Canadians. There is no doubt that as long as Canada has access to remote sensing tools like Radarsat that decision becomes a little easier to make.


On the military side, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) currently has 14 Wings which are spread right across the country. Air Force officers also operate in the space arena, conducting such high profile projects as the Sapphire satellite, which was launched in 2013 by the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to study the problem of space debris in low earth orbit.

The RCAF also utilizes the huge amount of data that pours down from Radarsat-2 through their Polar Epsilon project. Then there is the proposed Enhanced Satellite Communications Project, which if implemented will place two satellites in a high elliptical orbit capable of providing better communications in the arctic and polar regions.

The media spends a lot of time concentrating on the things that need fixing in the RCAF, such as replacing the fighters, or search and rescue helicopters, but the Air Force has over 80 squadrons equipped with more than 20 different aircraft.

The heart of the fleet's technology spans more than six decades. Although the oldest model is the Lockheed Hercules, the actual Hercules aircraft in service today are modern upgrades purchased in 2010. 45% of the currently operational RCAF fleet is built in the United States, 20% in Europe and Israel and 35% in Canada.


Our foreign built aircraft include:
  • CC-130 Hercules (Built by Lockheed, with the first flight in 1956)
  • CH-147F Chinook (Boeing 1962)
  • CH-124 Sea King (Sikorsky 1963)
  • CT-155 Hawk (BAE 1974)
  • CF-18 Hornet (Boeing 1978)
  • CP-140 Aurora (Lockheed 1979)
  • CP-140A Arcturus (Lockheed 1979)
  • CC-177 Globemaster III (Boeing 1991)
  • CC-150 Polaris (Airbus 1992)
  • CU-170 Heron (Malat 1994)
  • G-120 (Grob 1999)
  • CH-149 Cormorant (AgustaWestland 2000)
  • CT-156 Harvard II (Beechcraft 2000)
  • CH-148 Cyclone (Sikorsky 2008)
Our Canadian built aircraft include:
  • CT-114 Tutor (Built by Canadair, with the first flight in 1960)
  • CH-139 Jet Ranger (Bell  1962)
  • CC-138 Otter (de Havilland/Viking Air 1965)
  • CC-115 Buffalo (de Havilland/Viking Air 1965)
  • CC-144 Challenger (Bombardier 1978)
  • CT-142 DASH-8 (Bombardier 1983)
  • CH-146 Griffon (Bell 1992)
The world has changed a lot since de Havilland and Avro built everything in-house. Many of the largest aerospace manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus don't make everything in France or the USA, they source components from all over the world. So although we think of Bombardier and MacDonald Detwiler (MDA) as Canadian companies they have factories and facilities on several continents. The global market has changed everything.


As a good example of that, and for anyone still looking for more signs of Canada’s rich aerospace DNA in the Toronto area, one of the great success stories is that of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Located in a 250,000 sq ft plant a short walk from where Victory Aircraft stood in the 1940s, MHI Canada (MHIC) is the latest contributor to the long genealogy of large aircraft part manufacturers in Mississauga.

Known in the industry as a “Tier One” player, MHIC employs over 750 Canadians (many brought in straight out of the local universities and colleges) to quietly and studiously build wings and fuselage sections for Bombardier. That’s more than twice as many people as Sir Roy Dobson started Avro with in 1946. The Mitsubishi name is known and respected around the world, not least for having built the Kibo module for the International Space Station (ISS).

MHIC now has a direct link to Canada’s long aircraft manufacturing history and not just through its obvious connection to Bombardier. The company is also partnering with MDA to apply the outstanding robotic technologies developed for the Canadarm to create world-beating methods for aircraft manufacturing.

As if that isn’t enough of a provenance, the current president of MHIC came up through the ranks at the old Victory/Avro/McDonnell-Douglas/Boeing plant in Malton and makes sure the company has a good working relationship with industry groups such as CASI, the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada and the Ontario Aerospace Council.

The company is also an engaged and generous partner to the local community on a par with how Avro conducted itself in the 1950s. Perhaps even more encouraging is that MHIC sources its components from more than two dozen other Canadian suppliers, accounting for 65% of their material requirements. Many of the companies in MHIC’s and Bombardier’s supply chain provide world-class technology and are the quiet unsung heroes of modern Canadian aerospace.


Many smaller companies continue to evolve and grow in Canada's special aerospace market. One highly visible success story is Viking Air of British Columbia.

Initially Viking's business was selling parts and repairs for Grumman aircraft but in 1983 they took over servicing for the large global fleet of de Havilland aircraft, such as the Beaver and the Otter. By 2006 they had acquired certificates for the Chipmunk, Otter, Beaver, Caribou, Buffalo and the DASH-7. Between 2010 and 2016 Viking sold 60 Twin Otters to 24 countries. In 2016 they purchased more designs from Bombardier for amphibious aircraft. In 2017 Viking is modernizing Canada's rich aviation heritage and once again shipping iconic designs around the world.

Remote sensing continues to be one of the principal ways that Canada contributes to our understanding and better stewardship of our home planet. The Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation (CCMEO) is now leading a Government of Canada research and development effort to prepare for a 3-satellite RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) to be launched in 2018.


It is now a little more than 150 years since William Leitch first proposed rocket space flight from his desk at Queen's College in Kingston Ontario. Since then, Canadians have:
  • Postulated the first rocket assisted  aircraft. 
  • Become the third country to build its own satellite.
  • Built the world's first geosynchronous national telecommunications system.
  • Designed and fabricated what is arguably the most successful piece of space communications hardware ever created.
  • Flew the world's first direct TV satellite broadcast system.
  • Constructed the most advanced robotic system to ever fly in space.
  • Created some of the world's most sophisticated space-based remote sensing systems.
  • Proposed the first space-based earth-observation platform using microwave radar.
  • Manufactured the fastest down-link imaging system in the world.
  • Assembled the world's only space "gun."
  • Created the hardware which discovered weather on Mars and beyond Pluto.
  • Contributed to every manned spacecraft yet to fly in the United States.
  • Helped design and build the spacecraft and launch system which took humans to the moon.
  • And unraveled the mysteries of the aurora. 
In this anniversary year it seems more than appropriate that this uniquely polar phenomenon would now be enshrined on Canadian money. Image c/o Canadian Mint.

Canada may be 150 years old but since before the dawn of recorded history the eyes of ancient ancestral peoples have gazed up at the astonishing spectacle of the polar aurora and wondered what role it plays in our terrestrial affairs. By trying to answer this question the first inhabitants of this continent took the first steps on a long path of discovery which has ultimately spawned our own unique aerospace industry.

All of this came about as a result of a need to explore the vast remote regions of Canada, to be able to communicate across that same wilderness, and to be able to utilize and protect its resources. Despite all of these amazing accomplishments one thing hasn't changed; Canadians still need a robust aerospace industry for all of the same reasons which Phil Lapp outlined sixty years ago.

There is still a lot to explore, utilize and protect. 
Robert Godwin.
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Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books, the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum and an American Astronautical Society History Committee Member.
He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series "The NASA Mission Reports" and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music.  
His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called "2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey" about the history of spaceflight at the movies.
Last Week, "More RADARSAT, More Astronauts, the CSA's Growing Importance, the 'Airbus Affair,' MacDonald Dettwiler & the 'Canadarm'," in part fifteen of "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History."

To Start at the Beginning: Check out, "Before Canada: HMS Agamemnon, the Telegraph Cable, William Leitch & 'The Fur Country'," in part one of "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History."

On sale now, at Apogee Books.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Canada's "Next Top Astronauts" Not Diverse Enough, More Rover Funding & Private Sector Science

          By Henry Stewart

For the week of July 10th, 2017, here are a few of the stories we're tracking in the Commercial Space blog:

Perhaps they self-identify as visible minorities? New Canadian astronauts Joshua Kutryk and Jennifer Sidey visit the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) "rover room," essentially an indoor sandpit, during a a tour of the CSA headquarters in Saint-Hubert, QC on July 4th, 2017. Photo c/o Graham Hughes / Canadian Press.
  • When you define a space program by the excellence it encourages, the science it validates, the new technology it develops and the international partnerships it helps to cement, that's one thing. 
But if you define a space program in political terms and its astronauts as representative "role models" for the rest of the country to emulate, then it's no longer a space program. 
It's a social program. 
But with that said, it's important to note that the July 9th, 2017 Toronto Star editorial, "Canada’s space program has a diversity problem," does make two useful points.
First of all, Canada’s astronauts (fourteen in total, since the program began in 1983) are "exclusively white, and skewed male, problematic trends out-of-step with national demographics." 
Secondly, the Federal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has begun holding up Canada's astronauts and their accomplishments "as ambassadors for science and technology travelling the country encouraging young Canadians to pursue their education in STEM fields,” to a far greater extent than previous Federal governments.
As outlined in the July 1st, 2017 Canadian Press post, "Justin Trudeau unveils Canada’s newest astronauts at Canada 150 event," our current Prime Minister even took time out of his busy schedule to introduce "Canada's next top astronauts," Canadian Forces pilot Joshua Kutryk and University of Cambridge lecturer Jennifer Sidey, during a July 1st, 2017 Canada Day speech on Parliament Hill.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Visiting schools and acting "inspirational" is certainly an easier gig than "boldly going" where no one has gone before. It's also cheaper than building rockets or begging rides on rockets built by other nations and doesn't really require much more than a terrestrial based travel agent for support. 
This could be a part of the reason why, as outlined in the June 22th, 2017, post, "Classic Trek Offers Advice to the Canadian Space Industry on Our Latest Postponed Space Plan," our latest Canadian space plan is being postponed. 
Be inspired by that.
A CSA infographic showing the official reasons why Canada continues to invest in rover technology. Among the unofficial reasons, at least as outlined in the June 4th, 2017 post, "Part 12: A History of the Canadian Space Program - Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets," is an intentional CSA decision to "not branch out into entirely new technologies for which we have no heritage," which is kind of a weird decision for an innovative research and development organization to make, especially if it wants to remain an innovative research and development organization. But so long as the CSA has made rovers in the past, it's an easy decision to continue building them. Graphic c/o CSA.  

  • Although officially waiting for guidance from the Space Advisory Board (SAB), the latest Federal government initiative to provide guidance to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the CSA continues to develop rover technology in the hope that some other space agency will end up buying it.
As outlined in the July 7th, 2017 Federal government Buy and Sell procurement website post, "Development of enabling space technologies (9F063-170039/A)," Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), on behalf of the CSA, is soliciting notices of proposed procurement (NPP) to develop and advance three "enabling priority technologies" for potential future international collaborations relating to unmanned rover development.
The three programs include: 
  • The development of an "autonomy software framework (ASF)" to facilitate unmanned exploration. Up to $800K CDN has been allocated for this project.  
  • The development of "Mobility & Environmental Rover Integrated Technology (MERIT)." Up to $1,350K CDN has been allocated to this project. 
  • A "scalable wheels & advanced rover motion (SWARM) program," to develop improved wheels for potential rovers. Up to $350K CDN has been allocated to this project.
The latest NPP supposedly builds on previous CSA work in this area, beginning in 2009, when the Federal Conservative government under then Prime Minister Stephen Harper allocated $110Mln CDN in funding to the CSA as part of its 2009 Economic Action Plan to cover rover development, a "next generation Canadarm," and other smaller projects.
However, as outlined  in the September 26th, 2016 post, "The REAL Reason Why Canada Won't Be Participating in the NASA Resolve Mission Anytime Soon, Probably!," the CSA has only been allocated funding for rover research and development, not for a final flight version. 
Out standing in their field. None of the Canadian rovers pictured here are actually flight ready and none of the designs have ever been sold to any national space agency or private corporation. But there's sure a lot of them and that's gotta count for something. For a complete listing of the CSA developed rovers shown in this photo, check out the October 28th, 2016 CSA post on "The Canadian Space Agency's Fleet of Rovers."

Given that the estimated cost of a flight ready CSA designed rover could easily be well north of several hundred million Canadian dollars, its unlikely that NASA or the European Space Agency (ESA), which are both funding indigenous rovers as part of their own exploration programs, would contribute to the completion of a Canadian built rover. 
Other space agencies, and even private contractors, such as the US based Google Lunar X-Prize team Moon Express (MoonEx), last profiled in the June 5th, 2017 post, "Only Seven Years after Bob Richards Left Canada, His Rover is Going to the Moon," are also building their own rovers and don't need any assistance from the CSA.
But sources in the CSA still believe the space agency could sell at least a few component parts for someones else's rover and therefore will continue on with the research.
Aim high!
The BoldlyGo Institute, a "non-governmental, non-profit," US based organization "founded to address highly compelling scientific questions through new approaches to developing space science missions," is seeking private funding for missions like Project Blue (above), a space telescope designed to directly image extrasolar planets in the Alpha Centauri system. Photo c/o BoldlyGo Institute.

  • Meanwhile, back in the land of "boldly going," private sector start-ups are raising funds to perform scientific experiments. 
As outlined in the July 10th, 2017 Space Review post, "Seeking private funding for space science," private space capabilities in this area are proliferating. 
The article provided an overview of the presentations made at the 2017 Dawn of Private Space Science conference, which was held at Columbia University from June 3rd - 4th, 2017. 
The event attempted to connect "key players in the private space industry, space policy, and science to encourage collaboration on scientific research objectives in space." 
For more, check out upcoming stories in the Commercial Space blog.
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Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Space Councils and Starship Troopers

          By Brian Orlotti

In the past week, US President Trump has moved to resurrect the National Space Council (NSC) and a US Congressional panel has put plans for a US Space Corps in the 2018 defence budget. Both moves highlight (at least superficially) a rekindling of US government interest in refocusing its space efforts.

US President Donald Trump stands with VP Pence (left) and former astronaut/ space icon Edwin Eugene ("Buzz") Aldrin Jr. during the June 30th signing ceremony to re-establish the US NSC.  Aldrin ad-libbed "To Infinity and Beyond," to commemorate the ceremony while Trump added, "Infinity. It could be infinity. We really don't know. But it could be. There's gotta be something. But it could be infinity, right?" To see the complete video of the signing, including Aldrin's comment (beginning at the 02:21 mark), simply click on the screenshot above. Video c/o The Washington Post.

On June 30th, the signing ceremony for the executive order re-establishing the NSC took place at the White House. The key member of the council will be its chairman, US Vice President Mike Pence. The new NSC’s mandate includes the coordination of military, civil, and commercial space activities and the setting of broader goals for the United States in space.

As outlined in the June 30th, 2017 Washington Post article, "Trump revives National Space Council," Both Trump and Pence spoke at the ceremony, though their remarks mostly consisted of shop-worn platitudes about restoring American leadership in space and the human need to explore.

Beneath the red white and blue platitudes, however, another message can be found. The crowd at the ceremony mainly consisted of NASA’s traditional group of contractors; nearly all of them prime- or subcontractors on the US Space Launch System (SLS) and its Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV), the expensive, NASA funded, designed and built vehicle for future "deep space exploration."


After the ceremony, the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration (CDSE), an American based space advocacy organization supporting the continued government investment in space exploration. issued a statement noting that many of its members were invited. These included:
  • Orbital ATK (represented by John Steinmeyer, director of business development, Launch Vehicle Division)
Noticeably absent from the event were the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), a competing private spaceflight industry group more focused on NewSpace companies (they weren't invited) and the two most prominent NewSpace leaders, SpaceX's Elon Musk and Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos, who were unable to attend the ceremony due to the short notice they were given.

The move could be seen as an attempt to shut out NewSpace from the NSC with (perhaps) some added retribution for Elon Musk’s resignation from Donald Trump’s business advisory council earlier this year.

A new "user's advisory group" will also be created to advise the new council. According to the executive order, the advisory group's purpose will be to "ensure that the interests of industries and other non-federal entities involved in space activities, including in particular commercial entities, are adequately represented in the council."

Whether this group will include NewSpace firms or only traditional NASA contractors remains anyone’s guess.


But the civilian sector isn't the only sector looking to the high frontier.

On July 3rd, the US House Armed Services Committee (HASC) included a provision in the House version of the 2018 US defence budget that would create a separate military branch dedicated to space: the US Space Corps. It would also create a separate joint command, the US Space Command.

Currently, the US Air Force oversees the US military's space affairs, including procurement of launches for military and intelligence satellites as well as the operation of major US launch facilities.

Under the proposed legislation,  the new service would be administered by the Secretary of the Air Force (in much the same way as the Marine Corps falls under the US Department of the Navy), but would be a separate branch of the military and be granted its own membership of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.


As outlined in the July 8th, 2017 Gizmodo post, "Congress Close to Approving a New Space Army," the proposal faces an uphill battle as the US Senate’s version of the defence budget does not currently include the same provision. Such political  maneuvering will likely echo the battles once fought over the creation of the US Air Force.

Still, the proposal shows recognition of the need for better protection of space assets as well as, perhaps, a tacit acknowledgment that the opening space frontier will need sheriffs as well as cowboys.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Brian Orlotti.
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Brian Orlotti is a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Avoiding "Norsat Like Uncertainty" by Allowing the Chinese to More Easily Buy Advanced Canadian Companies

         By Chuck Black

It might be news to Canadian high tech and space companies attempting to comply with protective US laws such as the international traffic in arms regulations (ITAR) and the Canadian controlled goods program (CGP), but China sees the creation of a free trade agreement with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government as a way to avoid future "Norsat like uncertainty," and facilitate the purchase of other Canadian high technology companies.

National secrets be damned.

Prime Minister Trudeau shaking the hand of Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye in May, 2017. As outlined in the May 2nd, 2017 National Post article, "Ambassador Lu Shaye: Why Canada-China free trade is a win-win for both countries," the Chinese premier and Canadian prime minister "agreed last year to pursue the signing of a free-trade agreement, one that will create better conditions and a better environment for co-operation between our two countries." Photo c/o Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP.

As outlined in the July 5th, 2017 Canadian Press post, "China sees free trade with Canada as way to avoid future Norsat-like uncertainty," China is "hoping a future free-trade deal with Canada will help it avoid future controversies such as the national security concerns that surfaced over a Chinese takeover of a Canadian satellite technology company."

The article quoted Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye as stating that "he believes a free-trade agreement would help alleviate some of the unknowns for Chinese investors in future deals like the contentious takeover of Norsat International Inc."

As outlined in the June 23rd, 2017 CBC News post, "Norsat International investors approve takeover bid from Chinese firm," Vancouver, BC based Norsat International was acquired by Chinese based Hytera Communications after a hard fought battle with Atlanta based Privet Fund Management

Norsat sells custom satellite communications capabilities to Canadian and US civilian and military organizations for "remote and challenging applications" and lists various western civilian and military clients including the US Department of Defence, Boeing, CBC News, Reuters, NAV Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard as customers. 

The US government has announced its own review of the purchase. 

As outlined in the June 26th, 2017 Globe and Mail post, "Pentagon to review contracts with Norsat after Chinese takeover," the US Defence Department "will review all its business dealings with Norsat International Inc. after the Vancouver-based satellite technology company closed a deal that will allow it to be swallowed up by a Chinese telecom giant."

According to the article, the Liberal government has taken heavy criticism in Parliament and from members of the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee for approving the Norsat takeover without conducting a comprehensive national security review.
Chuck Black.
___________________________________________________________

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Part 15: 150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History

More RADARSAT, More Astronauts, the CSA's Growing Importance, the "Airbus Affair," MacDonald Dettwiler & the "Canadarm



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

Radarsat-1 would finally be launched in 1995 having consumed a massive budget in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars. The British government had reneged on its promise to participate, so Canada was left to carry most of the burden. However, the gamble paid off and Radarsat would become one of the most successful remote sensing machines in history.

MDA's technology for processing data from orbit was second to none. The final flight version of Radarsat-1 included a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) antenna that was 15m long by 1.5m wide and it could operate in a half dozen different modes. Somewhat tellingly it still included an X-band antenna similar to that proposed by Kurt Stehling in 1953. The SAR exceeded all expectations and opened up new vistas of research in everything from geology to archaeology.


Between January 1998 and March 1999 an assortment of purchases and sales led to the deconstruction of SPAR Aerospace including the purchase of the robotics division by MDA and with it the Canadarm contracts. That same year Orbital sold its interests in MDA.

Most of Canada's space activity was now firmly centred at the CSA in St Hubert. Bjarni Tryggvason would get to fly aboard the space shuttle in 1997 and a second generation of Canadian astronauts had been recruited several years earlier. This group included Chris Hadfield, Dave Williams and Julie Payette. All three would also enter the vernacular in Canada and fly a multitude of important missions into space.

Many of the flights by Canadian astronauts involved remote sensing of the earth. Robert Thirsk would fly in 1996 followed by Garneau for the second time. Today, four more Canadians have joined the astronaut corps, David Saint-Jacques, Jeremy Hansen, Jennifer Sidey and Joshua Kutryk. At the time of writing, all are still waiting for the next generation of manned spacecraft to be completed.

Also in 1996 Com Dev of Cambridge Ontario would acquire a license to manufacture a vast quantity of their unique microwave multiplexers to place aboard the most visible of all the satellite constellations, Project Iridium.

The "Airbus Affair," dogged Brian Mulroney, Canada's 18th Prime Minister, well after his term of office ended in 1993. For an overview, check out the April 29th, 2010 Globe and Mail post, "The scandal that keeps on flying." Political cartoon c/o Michael de Adder.

In July 1997 Boeing and Douglas merged, and when the group didn't get the orders they anticipated during the highly publicized Airbus fiasco in 2005, Boeing closed the old Avro Malton Plant laying off the last 300 workers.

The development of new tools for remote sensing continued unabated. Alan Carswell's Lidar had originally been designed to study pollution and air quality, but it would stir headlines across the world when it was deployed on the surface of Mars in 2008 and detected snow falling there. It was the first snow detected on another planet. However, this would not be the first time that Canadian technology had been to the red planet.

There were the reverse-engineered STEM aboard the Soviet's Mars 3 lander and NASA had used STEMs to deploy the ramps for the Sojourner/Pathfinder rover in July of 1997. The instruments on the end of the massive STEM booms aboard the two Voyager spacecraft, which were now plying their way into interstellar space, and would be the first to discover interstellar weather in 2014.

In 2007 the first Japanese spacecraft to orbit the moon, the SELENE, once again used STEMs. Even the United States Air Force Academy's Falconsat program used STEMs for a gravity gradient boom.

Infographic showing statistics on SCISAT, a small Canadian satellite that monitors ozone in the stratosphere and helps scientists improve their understanding of ozone depletion. Graphic c/o CSA.

Studying the weather was now becoming a critical function of space hardware. Climate change was on the top of every government's "to do" list. In 2003 Canada contributed the Scisat which was able to study the Earth's ozone layer. The same year also saw the launch of the MOST space telescope, which was followed up by the MOST space telescope, which was designed to make extremely long duration observations of stars in an attempt to better understand them and perhaps get a better date for the age of the universe.

In 2006 the Mobile Servicing System (MSS), or Canadarm2, was launched to the International Space Station (ISS). The four components of Canadarm 2, including its attendant hand, the special purpose dexterous manipulator (SPDM) also  known as DEXTRE, were built by SPAR both before and after it had been purchased by MDA. The system continues to operate aboard the ISS today.

Between 2009 and 2013 several Canadian astronauts lived aboard ISS and used the Canadarm2. These included Julie Payette, Robert Thirsk and most famously Chris Hadfield who managed to cause a media sensation with his regular reports from orbit.


The CSA also helped to fund MDA's construction of a second Radarsat. Launched in December of that year the Radarsat-2 pushed the technology even further. Although the satellite was lighter than its predecessor it could resolve down to 1m by 3m in its "spotlight" mode which was a marked improvement over Radarsat-1. It could also look both right and left, which effectively doubled the viewing capabilities.

In 2012 MDA purchased a massive US corporation named Loral. This was as a direct result of the Canadian government blocking the sale of MDA to another American company named ATK. MDA was considered too important to Canada's aerospace industry, and as the benefactor of a large portion of the available funding coming from the CSA, the sale was considered counter-productive to Canadian interests.

The root of this issue went all the way back to the late 1960s when governments around the world had been arguing about who controlled the space above sovereign territory. At first the USA had argued that satellites should be allowed to image anything which was beneath them. Other countries objected, including Canada, in part because it was felt that if the control of the data was in US hands before it came into Canadian hands, this might give American corporations an unfair advantage when it came to mineral rights.

A reminder that international political and business concerns often override other issues. For example, the March 30th, 2001 Globe and Mail post, "Bilateral space causing delays, costing millions," discussed reasons why the Canadian RADARSAT-2 program, originally expected to be launched on an American rocket from US soil, was being delayed and eventually needed to be launched by Starsem from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome on December 14th, 2007. The April 10th, 2018 post, "Federal government blocks sale of MDA space division," delved into how, during that same period, MDA attempted to sell its space technology division to US based Alliant Techsystems (ATK). Four years later, as outlined in the June 27th, 2012 post, "MacDonald Dettwiler buys Space Systems Loral for $875M," MDA tried another technique to bypass a "Gordian knot" of complex barriers designed to dissuade foreign firm from entering the lucrative US marketplace by purchasing a space company with US roots. And, as outlined most recently in the May 8th, 2017 post, "MDA Restructures For DARPA & Competition, Cuts US Workforce but Anticipates New Orders in Weak Q1 2017 Report" MDA is still attempting to reconfigure itself into a mostly US based firm to come into compliance with US legislation and achieve the anticipated pot of US gold assumed to accrue naturally to US military contractors. Screenshot c/o Globe and Mail.

Eventually a compromise was reached, in part because of MDA's ability to draw down the data at speeds unapproachable elsewhere. NASA relented at the beginning of the 1970s and agreed to let Canadian companies like MDA read the data generated above Canada.

Now that Radarsat was able to pull much more detailed and expansive data of Canada's resources and environment, the need for quick access was even more important. Today MDA is able to compete on a huge range of space projects. It sells high resolution imagery to distributors around the globe, and in early 2017 it was selected to participate in an asteroid discovery mission.

Also in the early spring of 2017 an American and Ukrainian consortium announced plans to build an orbital launch facility in Nova Scotia. With Canada currently purchasing launch services from India and the United States it seems that the political will may have finally arrived to take advantage of the highly skilled aerospace workforce in Canada; albeit using imported hardware. The East Coast launch site was chosen for many of the same reasons originally proposed by Phil Lapp, Kurt Stehling and John Chapman in the 1950s and 60s. The 50th anniversary of the Chapman Report would seem a fitting time to break ground on this new facility.
Robert Godwin.
_____________________________________________________________

Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books, the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum and an American Astronautical Society History Committee Member.
He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series "The NASA Mission Reports" and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music.  
His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called "2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey" about the history of spaceflight at the movies.
Last Week, "Challengers Destruction, the Hubble Space Telescope, a New HQ for the CSA, Spar Flounders & Orbital Sciences Buys MDA," in part fourteen of "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History."

Next Week, "Bombardier, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Conclusions," as "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History" finishes up an amazing journey.

On sale now, at Apogee Books.

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