Marc Boucher: March 2010 Archives

Dr. Lynn Rothschild from the NASA Ames Research Centre will be presenting "Life in Extreme Environments" on Friday March 26th, 2010 in Somerville House, room 3345 followed by a reception at Michael's Garden.

Life in Extreme Environments Lecture with Dr. Lynn Rothschild
Date: Friday, March 26, 7-8 pm
Venue: The University of Western Ontario, Somerville House, Room 3345

Steve MacLean, President of the Canadian Space Agency, will be at the University of Western Ontario on Wednesday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Conron Hall (University College 224) to present his lecture "It is Rocket Science," which addresses the idea that we have only begun to explore the potential of space, and the research done today sets a foundation for future generations to build on.

Nerenberg Lecture with Dr. Steve MacLean
Date: Wednesday, March 31 at 7:30
Venue: Conron Hall (University College 224)

Canadian scientists will receive a gold mine of new data soon after the CAScade, Smallsat and IOnospheric Polar Explorer (CASSIOPE) satellite launches in 2011. Scientists will be able to access the data though a central web site, the newly upgraded Canadian Space Science Data Portal (CSSDP) on the ultra-high speed Canada Advanced Research and Innovation Network (CANARIE).

NASA chief Charles Bolden testified today before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. Bolden was extremely supportive of the Presidents new plan for NASA saying "...the President put forward what I believe to be the most authentically visionary policy for real human space exploration that we have ever had."

A new NASA teaser video was released yesterday for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). And it's all about imagining what discoveries this next generation telescope and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope will find. Canada is a major contributor providing the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) and Tuneable Filter Imager (TFI). The JWST is schedule to be launched in 2014.

In today's Ottawa Citizen article "What does $100 billion buy?" they ask fair questions in "... how valuable this research in space has been, and does having a space station really add prestige, or industrial competence, or an innovative edge to a country?" with respect to how Canada benefits and humanity as a whole.

"The space station must impress us on a new level: Treating disease, or bringing new products or technology. Research continues on both fronts; today much of the technology research deals with materials, such as superconductors for the computer industry, which can be studied better in zero-gravity than on Earth."

Does visual perception change in the weightless environment? The graduate students of the International Space University believe it does, so they have created the IRIS (Image Reversal in Space) experiment for Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk to take part in.

Canadian Astronaut Bob Thirsk is a test-subject for the ground-breaking Canadian experiment BISE (Bodies in the Space Environment), which examines how humans distinguish up from down in weightlessness.

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) announced yesterday that the Canadian Space Agency has authorized MDA to start the design phase (C) of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. The value of this contract is limited to $11.8 million and is expected to be completed by June 11, 2010. The announcement comes two weeks after the federal government unveiled it's budget which included funding for the RADARSAT Constellation.

ASTRO 2010 is the 15thin the series of CASI Astronautics conferences that take place every two years. The theme selected for ASTRO'10 will bring together the Canadian space community to explore how we can work together to address pressing issues impacting our quality of life in three areas of great concern - safety and security, the environment, and the economy.

May 4 - 6, Westin Bristol Place, Toronto Airport
Canada's Future in Space - A Mission in Collaboration

Readers familiar with our ongoing Canadian Space Agency Watch series know that space policy is an issue we tend to focus on. In particular the long anticipated but elusive Long-Term Space Plan (LTSP) the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has been working in since the fall of 2008. So it came as a bit of a surprise when we found out that not only had the LTSP not been submitted to the Minister of Industry and Cabinet for consideration, but that it was not yet finished.

Today in Tokyo the leaders of the space agencies from Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States met to discuss the future of the International Space Station (ISS). The space station is nearing completion and the group noted there are no technical constraints to continue operations beyond 2015 to 2020 and possibly 2028. Extending the lifespan of the station to 2028 is a matter of certifying the on-orbit elements, something the ISS partners are currently doing.

In the budget released by the government last week was $397 million of new funding for the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. In addition, the Canadian Space Agency had already allocated $100 million for the Constellation. The green light to this project is an important step in maintaining highly skilled jobs and keeping Canada a leader in the Earth Observation field which will benefit the growing Canadian commercial space sector.

The Canadian Space Agency got the green light to go ahead with the RADARSAT Constellation Mission as reported earlier. The governments Economic Action Plan provided the Canadian Space Agency with $110 million over three years in last years budget. Of that, it was reported that $10 million had been committed while another $36 million will be committed this year. The $36 million for this year is lower than the original $60 million allocated last year.

Today's budget from the government provides the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) with $397 million of new money to help fund the RADARSAT Constellation Mission over 5 years. Along with $100 million that the CSA already has, the CSA will have a total of $497 million for the project. The bulk of the spending will happen after 2011-2012. This project which had already been in the research stage is a continuation of the Earth Observation thrust and is designed to help protect Canadian sovereignty, in particular the arctic.

More to come as we dissect the budget.

The Conservatives Governments throne speech today, in advance of tomorrow's budget, only hinted at possible increased funding for Earth Observation for Arctic sovereignty. The text of the speech which dealt with space was rather vague as you can see.

"Canada has been a spacefaring nation for nearly 50 years. Our Government will extend support for advanced research, development and prototyping of new space-based technologies, especially in support of Arctic sovereignty."

In agreeing to review My Dream of Stars: From Daughter of Iran to Space Pioneer
by Anousheh Ansari with Homer Hickam, I was not sure if Anousheh's story would captivate me or not. I had met Anousheh at Yuri's Night at NASA Ames on April 12, 2007, seven months after her journey to the International Space Station. At that time I knew little about her other than she was a self-made millionaire who had paid a large sum of money to fly to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz rocket and spent a week there. She seemed nice, but a little shy and reserved. However, if I knew then what I know now, well we would have a had great conversation. You see, that's because in a small way I now know her story, and what a story it is.

On March 4th the federal government will release what is expected to be a frugal budget. This is in part is due to lower tax revenues. The December 2009 deficit was $3.1 billion with revenues down $19.4-billion and program expenses up $22 billion. With revenues down and the deficit climbing the government has signaled that there will be few new spending initiatives and that some cuts might be in the offing. While the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is not expected to see a significant change in its budget this coming year, it is possible that cuts are forthcoming in future budgets which were already scheduled to decline as the government reigns in spending.