Monday, May 15, 2017

Part 9: A History of the Canadian Space Program - Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets

The 1990's, The Second Long-Term Space Plan, SCISAT, RADARSAT-2 & "Competitive Procurement"





The John H. Chapman Space Centre, completed in 1992. Photo c/o Treasury Board.
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.

Recognizing that the Canadian government's investment in space was going to start dropping rapidly in 1994 with the wind down of three major CSA programs, Mobile Satellite (MSAT), RADARSAT and the International Space Station (ISS), the CSA commenced planning for the next long-term space plan. Extensive consultations were held with interest groups across the country and by 1993 the CSA had developed an aggressive set of program proposals for consideration by the government. 

However, in 1993 a new government was elected that embarked on a comprehensive government wide expenditure reduction program and the CSA’s proposals never reached the Cabinet table. In its first budget in February 1994 the new government announced its intention to develop a new long-term space plan (LTSP II) and allocated $800Mln CDN of new funds for the ten year period from 1994/95 to 2003/04.

The government was extremely concerned about the rising costs for Canada’s participation in the ISS program and decided to “negotiate an orderly reduction in Canada’s current commitments to the International Space Station Program.” The government also stated, that if a satisfactory new role for Canada in the program could be negotiated, it would allocate an additional $200Mln CDN for this purpose.

Then Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien with Paul Martin, his long-term Finance Minister in 1997. The 1994 Federal budget wasn't just important for Canada's space efforts. As outlined in the November 11th, 2011 Economy Watch post, "How Did Canada Turn Its Debt Crisis Around In 6 Years, 20 Years Ago?," Canada's budget had included large annual deficits since the 1960's and was widely regarded by the early 1990's as the next nation expected to default on outstanding loans. But quick action, in the form of a multi-year deficit reduction programme initiated by the incoming Chr├ętien government, balanced the budget and restored Canada's international credit. Photo c/o Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press.

The 1994 Budget marked a distinct change in the government’s approach to space. Prior to this budget, space program proposals were submitted to the government, and if approved, new funds to implement the program would be made available. With the 1994 budget, the government first established the amount of money that it would make available for space and then asked the CSA to develop a plan within the allocated resources. For the first time, the government established a “space envelope.”

For the next three months, an extensive series of concurrent negotiations took place with NASA regarding the ISS and with the Canadian space community regarding LTSP II. A wide-ranging agreement was reached with NASA for “Enhanced Cooperation in Space Between NASA and CSA” that reduced the final costs of Canada’s space station participation by $759Mln CDN without affecting our commitment to provide ISS robotics. The agreement also provided for one Canadian astronaut launch per year, obtained NASA’s participation in RADARSAT 2, and confirmed NASA’s participation in Canada’s SciSat program.

In June 1994, the Minister of Industry, John Manley announced LTSP II, the most comprehensive space plan in Canadian history with more than $1Bln CDN of new program initiatives.

Included in the plan were: RADARSAT 2, a follow-on to the already approved RADARSAT 1 satellite; an advanced satellite communications program that eventually resulted in an experimental payload for the next generation of Telesat satellites; a substantial increase in the space science program, including SciSat, Canada’s first science satellite since ISIS II in 1972; and augmentation of the CSA’s technology development program.

LTSP II also included a new “Space Policy Framework” approved by the government. The framework instructed the CSA to design programming “to lever the maximum possible funding from other interested parties, including the industry and the provinces.” This requirement formed the underlying principle for the agreements with Telesat on the experimental payload for Anik F2 and the agreement with Macdonald Dettwiler (MDA) for RADARSAT 2.

The current impact of the Canadian space sector in 2013 as per the March 27th, 2015 Euroconsult Report on the "Comprehensive Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of the Canadian Space Sector." Graphic c/o Euroconsult & CSA. 

The framework directed that the “implementation of the Canadian Space Program seek to foster an internationally competitive, export-oriented Canadian space equipment and services sector, open to a growing number of firms, often small and medium-sized enterprises.” This latter requirement effectively put an end to the Prime Contractor policy adopted in the late 1970’s and paved the way for a competitive procurement process for RADARSAT 2 (the first ever competitive procurement for a major government space program).

The framework also noted that the government deems space to be “essential to protect national security and to enhance Canada’s sovereignty in the new political and economic world order” and indicated its desire to see that “a growing degree of synergy will be promoted between civil and non-aggressive defence space activities with a view to contributing to world peace and security… ”. This requirement led to the establishment of liaison offices at Department of National Defence (DND) and CSA and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining cooperation between the two departments.

Finally, the framework indicated the government’s expectation that Federal Departments will “take advantage of the opportunities provided by space- based technology and services to improve their short and long-term efficiency and effectiveness in meeting their mission objectives and will work with the CSA to maximize the degree to which these needs can be met from cost-competitive domestic sources.” 

This requirement provided the underlying policy for the program initiatives that the CSA was then promoting.
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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 MacDonald "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 and as a member of the Federal government Space Advisory Board.

Last Week: "Long-Term Space Plan I, a National Space Agency, RADARSAT, Centralization and the Dramatic Increase in Government Space Expenditures," in part eight of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets."

Next Week: "More on the 1990's, the CSA, "On-Going Budgets," a 3rd "Long-Term Space Plan," 
New Astronauts, More Satellites but Never Enough Funding," as part ten of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets," continues.

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